Two nuns from Mississippi famous for their unbridled charity work and service to the community have been found dead inside their home on Thursday. On top of the murders, the two Catholic nuns’ vehicle was stolen as well, as reported by CNN.
The vehicle, a blue Toyota Corolla, was found abandoned on a street barely a mile from where the two nuns were found dead, as reported by USA Today.
Authorities haven’t revealed any information as to a possible suspect or what type of vehicle was stolen. They haven’t released the cause of death either. Rev. Greg Plata, however, said that the police told him the two nuns were stabbed. The police confirmed to CBS affiliate WJTV that the two nuns did receive stab wounds.
The bodies of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill were discovered inside their Mississippi home on Thursday morning after they didn’t report to a nearby clinic where they were supposed to provide free flu shots, insulin, and medical care to children and adults who can’t afford them.
Mississippi mourns 2 slain nuns: 'There's something wrong with the world' https://t.co/CuWFJRSYvL— TIME.com (@TIME) August 26, 2016
“They were two of the sweetest, most gentle women you can imagine. Their vocation was helping the poor,” said Plata, the Reverend for the 35-member Catholic Church the two slain nuns attended.
Maureen Smith, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, says that the Catholic nuns’ home had signs of forced entry and that their vehicle was missing.
It’s not clear whether the nuns’ murders had anything to do with their work. Authorities haven’t released any information yet on the possible motive for the killing.
“I have an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach,” said Durant Assistant Police Chief James Lee, a Catholic.
“Their vocation was helping the poor," said the pastor of the two slain sisters. https://t.co/fkxfysi9F9— America Magazine (@americamag) August 26, 2016
Dr. Elias Abboud, who worked with the two nuns for years and helped establish the Lexington Medical Clinic, said that the future of the clinic has become uncertain after their deaths.
“I think the community is going to be different after this. You need somebody with that passion to love the people and work in the underserved area.
“For somebody to come and do this horrible act, we are all shocked.”
Abboud says that the clinic provided about 25 percent of all medical care in the county, which according to U.S. Census Bureau has a population of about 18,000 in July 2015.
The two nuns did most of the work at the clinic and cultivated relationships with representatives from drug companies, allowing the facility to provide the community with free medicines, according to clinic manager Lisa Dew, the Inquirer reports.
“I think their absence is going to be felt for a long, long time. Holmes County, it’s one of the poorest in the state,” Dew said. “There’s a lot of people here who depended on them for their care and their medicines. It’s going to be rough.”
Sister Merrill, a Massachusetts native who joined the order in 1979, worked in Mississippi for over 30 years, according to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky.
Two years after joining the order, she moved to the South and “found her calling” in the Mississippi community, as stated in the 2010 article in The Journey, which is a Sisters of Charity of Nazareth publication.
Despite her years of excellent service, Merrill has always showed great humility.
“We simply do what we can wherever God places us,” she said.
According to Lisa Dew, Sister Merrill provided tremendous help in controlling the tuberculosis outbreak that once caught the region.
“They’ll help anybody they can help. They’ll give you the shirt of their back,” Dew said.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, most of the region experienced power failure for weeks. The two sisters allowed people to come freely into their home so they can cook using their gas stove.
“These ladies didn’t require any fan fair, any bells and whistles. They would just keep their nose to the grindstone, doing what had to be done,” said Sam Sample, the leader of the St. Thomas Catholic Church in Lexington.
[Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo]