We regretfully inform you that earlier today, Sister Paula Merrill with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and Sister Margaret Held with the School Sisters of St. Francis, were found dead in their shared home in Durant, Mississippi. The Durant police and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are investigating. Please pray in gratitude for the precious lives of Sisters Paula and Margaret. The statement issued by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth reads:
“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.”