Murdered nun described as a 'living saint'

46-year-old Miss. man arrested in her death
Posted at 6:01 PM, Aug 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-28 19:01:34-04

Family of the nun from Southeast Wisconsin, who was stabbed-to-death inside her Mississippi home, says Sister Margaret Held’s body will soon be brought home to Wisconsin.

“She was a wonderful sister all through my life. I just love her so much,” Jean Knoll said.

Knoll said her family wants people to remember Margaret as a happy person. She also said they hope that someone will carry on the work she loved so much in the clinics of rural Mississippi.

“Those hours those women worked every day of their lives for those people, I hope somebody out there will step in,” Knoll said.

Margaret and Sister Paula Merrill were found slain in their Durant home after they didn't arrive at work.

Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, has been charged in the deaths. It is unknown why he carried out the murders.

Held’s family said they feel like they’ve lost two sisters because Margaret and Paula did so much together.

Held has just celebrated a birthday at her sister’s home in Hartford on August 15. She was one of eight children born and raised in Slinger to Jerome and Dolores Held.

At just 13-years-old she felt her calling to dedicate her life to God.

After attending the School Sisters of St. Francis and graduating from Alverno college, Held taught Social Science at St. Joseph's High School in Kenosha from 1972 to 1976. Then in the 80s she felt she belonged helping poor communities in the south. 

“The world lost two very, very special women,” Knoll said. “Margaret was very blessed she had three families; the sisters of School Sisters of St. Francis, her own big family and the people she loved in Mississippi.”

Held was part of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee for 49 years.

A mass and visitation will take place on Thursday, September 1 at Resurrection Church, 215 Main Street in Allenton, Wisconsin. The visitation will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. and the mass will take place at 6 p.m.

Then, a final mass will take place at St. Joseph’s Convent at 1515 S. Layton Boulevard in Milwaukee – that date is pending.