NAZARETH, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It was a sober homecoming for Sister Paula Merrill, the nun killed in Mississippi last week. Thursday Sister Merrill was brought home to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth based near Bardstown.
"We're together in life, we're together in death,” Sister Susan Gatz, President of Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, said.
Beneath the church bells, on the land where she made her vows, Sister Paula Merrill was brought home.
"Welcoming Paula's body home is particularly poignant, because of the manner of her death. So its healing for the sisters to be able to welcome her, and just be present and have her among us again," Gatz said.
Standing side by side, her sisters wiped away their tears, as Merrill’s casket was taken out of the hearse and up the path to the church.
"The tragedy of it is what is breaking our hearts," her sister said.
They said they know she's in a better place now, but are still struggling with the way she got there.
"The community has lost a wonderful sister, her family has lost a wonderful sister and aunt, I've lost the best friend I've ever had in the world," Connie Rottersblake said.
Thursday night's ceremony was a viewing closed to the media. Friends, family and her sisters gathered outside of the church while her casket was carried in.
Family said her tragic death is now a thing of the past. The new focus is on her legacy.
Her nephew, David Merrill said, "All the stuff about how she went, you know that’s in the hands of the state of Mississippi at this point, you know for us it’s just focus on celebrating a life."
A life that was dedicated to serving others and though she's not with them physically, her sisters said she's serving even now.
"She’s now praying for us, and that’s a comfort, were in sorrow, she's in joy, and were kind of depending on her now,” Gatz said.
Merrill’s funeral will be Friday morning at the chapel on the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth campus.