Durant (Agenzia Fides) - Two nuns, Sisters Margaret Held, of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCN), and Sister Paula Merrill, of the School Sisters of St. Francis (SSSF), were killed with knives in their home in Durant, in Mississippi, in an area where more than 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. It is believed from the first investigations that they were killed by a robber, who then fled with their car which was found abandoned nearby. Police have arrested a person. The two Sisters, both Americans, aged 68, were serving as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, health center that assists, free of charge, families who cannot afford medical care. On August 25, not seeing them arrive on time as always, colleagues alerted the police, who found signs of forced entry in their home and found their bodies. They were loved and well-liked by everyone for their kindness, their availability in particular towards those in need.
Sister Susan Gatz, President of SCN, asked 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". A joint statement of the two congregations ask that "we move forward together at this time in a prayerful and healing manner, focusing on the lives of Sisters Paula Merrill and Margaret Held, two compassionate, faith-filled women.
We want to reiterate our beliefs as women of faith, that we value life. For years now the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and the School Sisters of St. Francis have worked to abolish the death penalty, even as we seek justice and truth".
Various celebrations for the repose of the two Sisters were held in different places this weekend. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 29/08/2016)