Remembering Sister Paula and Sister Margaret

Posted by Spalding Hurst

August 26, 2016

We are so grateful for the many prayers and words of comfort and support we are receiving from around the world as we mourn the loss of Paula Merrill, SCN, and Margaret Held, SSSF. We are in shock and continue to grieve as we attempt to absorb this news.

It was only last weekend that Sister Paula had visited the Motherhouse in Nazareth, Kentucky. We remember her loving spirit and compassionate care for those she served.

Sister Margaret, a longtime friend and partner in ministry with Sister Paula, ministered with the people of Mississippi since the early 1980s.

Our mission statement calls us to risk our lives and resources as we work for justice in solidarity with oppressed people. These Sisters did exactly that.

We join in prayer with all Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, the School Sisters of St. Francis, the families of Sister Paula and Sister Margaret, their coworkers, St. Thomas Parish, the people of Durant, Mississippi, and all who will miss their loving presence. We pray for all whose lives have been touched by violence.

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Paula Merrill, SCN, and Margaret Held, SSSF, will be honored by the community in Mississippi where they served and lived for so many years. Memorial arrangements in Mississippi are as follows:

A wake service will be held on Sunday, August 28, 2016 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 200 Boulevard Street in Lexington, Mississippi, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Prayer service will be held at 6:30 p.m.

A memorial Mass will be held on Monday, August 29, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, 123 N West Street in Jackson, Mississippi.

Funeral arrangements at Nazareth, Kentucky, will be communicated as soon as they become available.


  1. Mary Beth McCurdy

    As the lives of Margaret and Paula speak to our world in a time of great social pain,the light of their respective congregational charisms shine through the stubble! Let us hold all in mercy,love and understanding.


  2. Sister Brendalee Boisvert

    Dear Sisters,
    We were deeply saddened to hear of this news of the death of these women of hospitality and welcome to many of God’s little ones.
    Know that you are all held in the prayers of the Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Sister Brendalee Boisvert and members of the Leadership Team.

  3. Julie Cutter

    Our hearts are broken at the loss of our Sisters Paula and Margaret. Their dedication to the service to and with the people of Mississippi is a witness to the love and mercy we all seek to practice.

  4. Marietta Wethington,OSU

    To the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, the School Sisters of Saint Francis, the Merrill and Held families and the people of Durant, I offer sincere sympathy and prayers. May God’s love enfold you and comfort you. May Sisters Paula and Margaret live forever in the radiance of God’s face.
    And we ask, Dear God, that you touch the hearts of all those who inflict violence on other. May they turn to you and seek pardonl

  5. Suzanne Sims, OSU

    To the people of Durant, the congregations and families of these two women who loved God above all, may your hearts be comforted by our prayers for all of you. Thank you, Paula and Margaret for you witness to Christ in the poor in need of care. Thank you, God, For your unfathomable mercy toward them and their assailant. My prayers for all.


    My heart go out to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth,Kentucky, The School Sisters of St Francis, Milwaukee and the families. May our good God carry you through this time of grief and mourning.
    You are in my prayers.

    Magdalene Ogah

  7. Arthur Keith

    My wife and I lived less than a block from the two sisters. We saw them on a daily basis as they came by our house on their way to work at the clinic in Lexington. On their days off we saw sister Margaret walking by our house as she did often. Both sister Paula and sister Margaret came by often, seemed to enjoy talking gardening and bible studies. We will miss two of the most loving women we knew in Durant, and many people in Holmes County will miss their ministry as they provided health care to them that they were unable to receive elsewhere. Heaven has earned two saints and we have lost them here.

  8. Vie Thorgren, SCNA

    We are all wounded individually and corporately by by the loss of these two women–sisters to us all. I am challenged to even deeper fidelity to risk life and resources…for all brothers and sisters in poverty…especially the most abandoned.

  9. Melissa Alexander

    I never knew them. But from half a country away, their story moved me, and I mourn them. Two angels were taken, but are never forgotten. May their spirits be at peace, and May their legacy of service, continue.

  10. Sister Barbara Valuckas

    My prayers are for the patients of Paula and Margaret; they are at peace now but their patients have lost compassionate caregivers.

  11. Camille Piper

    What wonderful work these Sisters did and provided a great service to all. Our thoughts and prayers as we mourn / Bless all those who provide for those in need.

  12. Wanda Russell & Miriam Picconi

    Know that our prayers are with the Sisters and families of Sisters Paula and Margaret killed in MS. We are Roman Catholic Woman Priests and we will lift all of you in prayer tomorrow with our community at our Mass. Your sisters not only gave their lives figuratively, but, literally, for the gospel. We also pray for the community in which they ministered and lived. May each be drawn closer to our loving creator.

    • Betty Rubble

      “Roman Catholic Women Priests” only exists in your minds ladies. What would possess you to use a tragic event such as this to spout about your non-Catholic agenda? Pride and arrogance, hello Adam and Eve! Take example from these two faithful daughters of THE Church….

      • Nightingale

        Each person must give to the Christian Church as his/her conscience dictates. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

    • Gaetano DAmbrosio

      As a Catholic man from Connecticut I was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph and still practice my faith every day at Mass and in prayer. As appalling and heinous as this deed was done I am sorry for their deaths and may their souls rest in peace.

  13. Sister M. Judith, SCN

    We mourn with the Sisters in our congregations and pray for them, the families of Paula and Margaret and our Sisters in our communities. May Sisters Paula and Margaret rest in peace.
    Sisters Dolores Ann and M. Judith

  14. Mary McGlone

    We are all proud to share the name of “sister” with these two wonderful examples of women who give their lives. May the inspiration they are help heal the sorrrow of all those who mourn their death.
    Mary McGlone CSJ

  15. leena padam

    a real shock an example for us to risk life for the gospel value as our pioneer did. we ask the grace to be courageous like these two sisters. May they rest in peace.

  16. leena padam

    a real shock an example for us to risk life for the gospel value as our pioneer did. we ask the grace to be courageous like these two sisters. May the rest in peace.

  17. Sr Barbara Jean Head OSU

    My heart goes out to all of you during this tragic sad time. Know that all of you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  18. Donna Butler

    How heartbreaking this news is for everyone who loved them and benefitted by their generosity and Gospel living. All of you are being held in prayer in your grief.

    I’m a Sister of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods,IN and did a mission month in Belize where I stayed part time with your sisters.

  19. mary c. Remacle

    I WAS taught by the Sisters of Charity in St. Mary’s Kansas. The mother house was in Lawrence Kansas and I recall them very devoutly. I even visited the Mother House once but wasn’t my calling to become a Nun. I have great feelings for the Sisterhood. Prayers for the two that were killed.

    • Williams

      Such is life? may their soul rest in perfect peace, i wish the killer a hottest place in HELL!!!!!


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