Two Catholic Nuns Found Slain in Mississippi

DURANT, Miss. — Two Catholic nuns were found dead inside their Mississippi home after they didn’t show up to work Thursday, according to police.

Both women had stab wounds, the Durant police chief told WJTV.

The nuns have been identified as Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held. Merrill worked with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky, and Held with the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.

“These were the two sweetest sisters you could imagine,” Father Greg Plata told the Clarion-Ledger. “It’s so senseless.”

Authorities believe the women may have been victims of a robbery, according to the paper.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth released the following statement:

With great sadness we announce that this afternoon, we were informed that Paula Merrill, SCN, was found dead at her home in Durant, Mississippi. Police found both her and Margaret Held, SSSF, dead this morning after being called by personnel at the medical clinic where they ministered. The two had not come into the clinic this morning.

We have very little information at this time. There is an investigation underway. We have spoken with the parish priest, the chief of police, and the coroner’s office to confirm the deaths of Sisters Paula and Margaret.

As a community we have come together in prayer. SCN President Susan Gatz asks that all, “pray in gratitude for the precious lives of Sisters Paula and Margaret … they served the poor so well. Because we are gospel women, please also pray for the perpetrators.”

Please keep the families and religious communities of Sisters Paula and Margaret in your prayers, as well as those who work at the medical clinic where the Sisters were in ministry and the clinic’s many clients, and those involved in the investigation. Please also keep the community of Durant in prayer as well.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are an international Congregation in a multicultural world. Impelled by the love of Christ, in the tradition of Vincent de Paul and the pioneer spirit of Catherine Spalding, Sisters and Associates are committed to work for justice in solidarity with oppressed peoples, especially the economically poor and women, and to care for the earth. They risk their lives and resources, both personally and corporately, as they engage in diverse ministries in carrying out this mission.