After reading of the brutal stabbing death of Sister Margaret Held on Aug. 25 at her home in Mississippi, I recall the Margie Held I attended high school with over 50 years ago.
Together we attended St. Joseph High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a school for girls interested in becoming nuns. We lived in Marian Hall, a large dormitory near the school where we boarded during the school year and went home for the summer.
We entered high school the same year. Our class was small by any standard, on average about 30 girls, some leaving at the end of each school year, and some coming in when the new school year began.
Margie Held was smart and thoughtful. I never heard her complain about anything or gossip about anyone. Most of us thought Margie was pretty close to perfect.
She was diligent in everything she did—studying in the large study hall, waxing the wood parquet floors on Saturday, or serving patients breakfast at the sanitarium next door.
We were both pretty good at volleyball and won our share of games against other classes. She had a way of making people feel comfortable around her. I remember her laugh and her warm smile.
I remember singing in the high school chorus. I sang alto and so did Margaret. We sang with feeling, but I knew I would not be a great singer.
Her family lived in Slinger, Wisconsin, and seemed very supportive of her desire to become a nun. She was second in our class at graduation yet modest about her achievements. She was elected the president of the local third order of St. Francis at our school.
Our teenage years were during the tumultuous sixties when many nuns and priests would forsake their vows, and few were entering the sisterhood. Margaret did enter the order of the School Sisters of St. Francis and was faithful to her vows until the day she died.
I had very little contact with Margie after high school. We both attended Alverno College and I recall Margie graduated magna cum laude. We were on different paths. I was rather surprised she worked as a nurse practitioner in Mississippi since I never knew she wanted that.
I remember Margie’s short, black curly hair, her slim profile, and the certain timbre of her voice. I can still hear it.
Margaret was born on August 15, 1948 in Slinger, Wisconsin and joined the order on August 5, 1967.
She was a family nurse practitioner at Lexington Medical Clinic in Lexington, Mississippi. “I grew up during the Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty. Impressionable and idealistic, I was committed to ending racism and poverty,” Margaret wrote in an article for the Order’s publication, “Alive.”
The people she served in Mississippi were very lucky.
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