Friends remember murdered nun: 'I'll miss her joy'

Posted at 9:35 PM, Aug 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-30 23:28:43-04

MILWAUKEE -- The congregation at School Sisters of St. Francis is mourning one of their own.

"Joy. I will miss her joy," said Sister Mary Jane Wagner, Director of Music Ministry at School Sisters of St. Francis.

Southeast Wisconsin native Sister Margaret Held was one of two nuns stabbed to death in their Durant, Mississippi home last week.

"How could this have been? I mean they were befriended by everyone," asked Sister Mary Jane.

Sister Mary Jane Wagner met Margaret almost 50 years ago to the day.  She was a woman loved by so many.

"We're all beside ourselves with grief, and sadness, and questions."

46-year-old Rodney Sanders is charged with the nuns' murders.

"What about this man? What was going on in his mind?" questioned Mary Jane.

Mary Jane calls the death confounding. 

"It is just inconceivable."

Yet like her friend Sister Margaret was, she's filled with hope.

"I think ultimately some good will come from this, but it's hard to say what," said Sister Mary Jane about the rural Mississippi community the nuns served as nurse practitioners.

Mary Jane last saw Sister Margaret in July and they talked earlier this month. 

"She came up to Milwaukee regularly and we would see each other, if not only for an hour or two."

The long-time friends would talk about life.

"She had a lovely garden. She loved to bake and cook.  She and Sister Paula were just the best of friends and I would hear many stories about Paula and their escapades," said Sister Mary Jane.

Sister Margaret was a good friend to many and a great listener to all. 

"When you're talking with her, she is so absorbed in what is happening here it's like you feel like you're the only person in the world that matters to her at that moment," explained Mary Jane.

A funeral for Sister Margaret will be held in the chapel at School Sisters of St. Francis Friday.