Mississippians gather with families and friends to celebrate the lives of two Catholic nuns brutally killed last week in their Durant home.
Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson, is filled with families, friends and mourners for a memorial service in honor of Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held. The pair, both 68, shared a home in Durant, and worked as nurse practitioners at a medical clinic in Lexington. Sister Susan Gatz has known Sister Paula as she fondly calls her for nearly 50 years.
"They cared for the people they served. They weren't just patients. They were part of their community," said Gatz.
The nun's healthcare ministry was a staple in Holmes County, one of the poorest counties in the nation. Last Thursday, the nuns were found brutally stabbed to death in their home, after they didn't show up for work. People are devastated by the tragedy. Sister Paula's Nephew David Merrill is here from Boston.
"You know they're hurting as much as we are. It's just been tough. I know it's been the same for Sister Margaret's family. They're a huge family. They're a Catholic family," said Merrill.
The pastor at St. Thomas Church in Lexington, where the nuns' worshipped says they showed Christian love in action, constantly giving of themselves to help others. Sister Paula's biological sister, Rose Marie Merrill, says the nuns lived together for nearly 30 years.
"I am so happy given the horrendous thing that happened that they went together. It would have been so horrible if what had of survived and the other one didn't," said Merrill.
Rose Marie Merrill asks that people pray for 46-year old Rodney Earl Sanders of Kosciusko. He faces two counts of capital murder in this case. Merrill says the families of the victims don't support the death penalty.