We join in solidarity at this time of loss with the communities of the School Sisters of Saint Francis and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. As we honor the memory of Sister Margaret Held, SSSF, and Sister Paula Merrill, SCN, we recall their profound witness to the transforming power of the Gospel in mission.
Sister Margaret and Sister Paula were the living face of mission in rural Mississippi where they served tirelessly the medical and spiritual needs of the poor. Their ministry dedicated to providing and improving health care for the poor leaves a legacy of humble and selfless generosity in mission. Their example of compassionate service will continue to inspire others to mission in service of the Gospel.
We are grateful for the life and mission of Sister Margaret and Sister Paula who were truly “martyrs of charity,” in the words of Father James Martin, S.J. “Like so many Catholic sisters in this country and around the world, these two women religious selflessly poured themselves out for the People of God, especially the poor,” Father Martin noted.
“These sisters have spent years of dedicated service here in Mississippi. They absolutely loved the people in their community,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz. “We mourn with the people of Lexington and Durant and we pray for the Sisters of Charity, the School Sisters of St. Francis and the families left behind.” More from the Jackson Diocese.
We remain in solidarity with all those in mission who, like Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, meet the needs of the times as they witness to the Good News of Jesus and make present the reign of God in the lives of all people, especially the poor. We will honor their memory at our upcoming conference in Cincinnati, Ohio (October 28-31, 2016), as we pray in gratitude for their lives and mission with the poor.
To read more about their lives, here is the RNS story.
The New York Times story of their deaths.
And an inspiring video of the two sisters in mission: