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Sisters of Mercy

     The Pass people were delighted to have their children with religious instructors and lavished all kindness in their power.  The convent annals in chronicling the Pass opening give affectionate remembrance to Mrs. John Nelson, whose kindness towards the Sisters of Mercy, began on the first day of their arrival in 1870, and continued until death when it was bequeathed as a sweet legacy to her children.
     God rewarded this good woman so gentle and delicate in her many charities, by calling two of her daughters, Sister M. Borgia and Sister M. Ursula, to serve Him in the community she so long and so lovingly befriended.  The annals also tell of the unchanging kindness of Mrs. Manders, the mother of Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who together with her son-in-law and daughter gave substantial aid to the sisters for many years.  This dear family sent a zealous representative in the person of Sister M. Camillus Fitzpatrick, who after her graduation left her dear ones to join the Mercy band.

Family Name:  Kate
Date of Birth:  1860
Father:      John Nelson
Mother:     Jane C. Marmion
Date of Entrance to Convent:  Nov. 19, 1877 at Vicksburg
Date of Reception of Habit:    May 24, 1878
Date of Perpetual vows:     May 24, 1880
Date of Death:               April 5, 1916     Buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg, MS.
Cause of Death:  Pneumonia

Sister Mary Borgia will be remembered as a music teacher in the catholic schools of Mississippi.  Sisters always started an orchestra where she taught.

While the body of Sister mary Borgia was lying in the convent chapel, the body of Sister Mercedes Dobyns was placed beside her.  THIS IS ONE OF THE RARE OCCASIONS WHEN FUNERAL SERVICES FOR TWO SISTERS OF MERCY WERE AS ONE.

     News of the demise of Sister Borgia was received here with the deepest regret by many of the old friends of this good Sister.  Death came Wednesday night to her at the Convent of Mercy in Vicksburg, where she had been ill only a short time.
     Sister Borgia, just at the threshold of womanhood, and known and loved by many as “Kitty” Nelson, entered religious life, thirty-eight years ago, and during that long period devoutly served her God as she vowed to do as faithfully and conscientiously as possible for frail humanity to fulfill.  Her beautiful love for the sisterhood and the work of the Lord was ever an inspiration to those about her, and new at the end she inherits the reward promised those whose life is free to the cause of Christ.
     Her sisters, Mrs. J.H. Lang and Mrs. J.S. Liversedge were called to her bedside during the first of the week, and the latter, with her nephew, Mr. Harry E. Nunn, of Gulfport, remained to the end.  Her demise is a source of much sorrow in the Sisterhood of Mercy in this State and to her many relatives, all of who have the deepest sympathy of a large number of friends.

     The death of Sister Mary Borgia, aged 57 [she was only 56] years, occurred yesterday morning at the convent  Sister Borgia came to Vicksburg from Pass Christian where she was greatly beloved in administering her duties at the convent.  The funeral will take place at the convent this morning at 8:30 O’clock.  Requiem high mass to be said by Rev. Father Mallin.  The following gentlemen will serve as pall bearers: C.J. O’Neill, John Kearney, John Brunini, J.A. Hennessey, Steve Treanor, M.J. Mulvihill.


Family Name:  Metta Elizabeth Nelson
Date of Birth     Mar. 8, 1862          Pass Christian, MS
Baptism     Mar. 16,      St. Paul’s Church in Pass Christian, MS
Father:          Captian John Nelson from Copenhagan, Denmark
Mother:     Jane E. Marmion  from Dublin Ireland
Nearest of Kin:  Mrs. John Lang      Pass Christian, MS
Entered the Sisters of Mercy Jan. 3, 1881 in Vicksburg, MS.
Received the habit:  May 27, 1881 in Vicksburg, MS.
Made Perpetual Vows:  July 10, 1883 in Vicksburg, MS
Date of Death:  Jan. 9, 1944 at St. Francis Xavier Academy, Vicksburg, MS.
Died of cerebral Hemorrhage          Buried at Cedar Hill Cemetary, Vicksburg, MS
Counselor was a person who advised Superior – like an executive committee for local convent.
Obituary of Sister M. Ursula Nelson, RSM in a Sisters of Mercy Publication
     “I wonder if my twin will come back for me soon!”  These were the words of
Sr. Mary Ursula Nelson, RSM on the day of Sr. M. Marcelline Street’s burial.  These two religious were born on the same day, March 8, 1862, made their novitiate together, labored side by side on the Indian Mission, and were again companions in their declining years in the infirmary of St. Francis Xavier Academy, Vicksburg, MS.  The elder twin came back within six weeks of her own death to claim Sister M. Ursula, who died Sunday morning, January 9, 1944, surrounded by her religious sisters united in prayers for the dying.
     Sister M. Ursula was born in Pass Christian, MS.  Her father, Thomas Nelson, was a Danish sea captain; and her mother, Jane Marmion, was related to the illustrious Abbot Columba Marmion of the Abbey of Maredsous.
     Sister M. Ursula entered the Convent of Mercy at Vicksburg in the nineteenth year of her age and led for more than sixty years the life of a laborious sisters.  Most of her teaching was done in the music department, where her painstaking methods and gentle manner fitted her especially for beginners.  In the community this saintly religious was remarkable for her piety, the generous nature upon whom everyone could call.  Nothing seemed to give her greater happiness than the ability to aid a sister, young or old.  There is not a member of the community who cannot recall Sister M. Ursula by some garment carefully patched, some book neatly mended, some little interrupted task found completed by her busy hands.
     The last years of this good sister’s life were marked by intense physical sufferings, which she bore with meekness and fortitude.  In her final illness she received the last sacraments with great fervor, edifying the community by her firm responses to the prayers and by the joy that overspread her countenance at the thought of going home to God.  Her holy death was the echo of a pious, detached, and humble life.
     A Requiem High Mass was celebrated in the convent chapel for Sister M. Ursula.  The music was rendered by the pupils of the school.  The burial service was pronounced by Right Rev. Monsignor D. J. O’Beirne, Vicar General of the Diocese of Natchez.  Many other member of the local clergy were present, testifying to the great esteem in which this saintly religious was held.


     Sister Mary Ursula Nelson, RSM, the oldest sister in the state of Mississippi, died here Sunday morning and was laid to rest in Cedar Hill Cemetery today after a requiem high mass in the convent chapel at 9:00 o’clock.
     Sister Mary Ursula was born at Pass Christian, March 8, 1862, the daughter of Thomas Nelson, a Danish sea captain, and Jane Marmion.  In 1881 she entered the Convent of Mercy in Vicksburg where she made her religious profession July 10, 1883.  She celebrated her Golden Jubilee last July.
     Sister Ursula was one of the first sisters to labor in the Indian Mission in Neshoba county.  After its disestablishment she served with various missions throughout the state.
     Most of her work here was done in the music department, where her patient and gentle nature made her admirably fitted for instructing school children.  Sister Ursula was characterized by a rare simplicity and a spirit of prayerfulness which endeared her to all who knew her.
     The deceased is survived by one sister, Mrs. J.C. Liversledge, of Pass Christian, several nieces and nephews, one great nephew, Rev. Richard Lang, priest of the Congregations of Missions.  Her other nephews are in the armed forces.
     The funeral mass was celebrated by Rev. Father Martin Maloney.  Pallbearers were John O’Neill, Lawrence Hennessey, Bob Evans, M.J. Mulvihill, S.E. Treanor and Albert Tucker.
     Fisher Funeral Home was in charge.
Sr. Mary Jeremy’s Note
     In the early days, the salaries for the sisters teaching in the schools was inadequate to meet many of the expenses of the sisters.  In the early days many sisters gave private piano lessons to supplement the income of the community.  I am guessing that Sr. Mary Ursula was one of these early piano teachers.


The St. Joseph Convent for Sisters of Mercy as it was in 1914

     While Father Blanc was in charge of the Pass he received a very valuable gift from one of his parishioners, Mr. Wittman, who was a very ingenious cabinet maker. This kind man laboring between working hours erected a perfectly beautiful altar, so graceful and elegant that it has been retained in the Church when other objects were removed for improvement, and by a singular coincidence his grandson, Frank, has been engaged to build the side altars in harmony with the style of the high altar.  It seems that God's special blessing on these generous families took the form of a religious vocation, for the oldest daughter, Miss Anna Wittman, has been serving our Lord at the Convent of Mercy, Vicksburg, for a quarter of a century, as Sister Mary Bernadette.

     In 1903, Miss Ellen Curran who had been once a postulant in Vicksburg, left a house to be sold for the benefit of the Orphan Asylum in St. Alphonsus' Parish in New Orleans, and the convent at the Pass.  The house was sold to Mr. Butler of St. Louis, for a summer residence for three thousand dollars, half of which was given to the sisters at the Pass and the other to Mother M. Philomena of the New Orleans community.  This sum was used to build a second story on the convent, to renovate the Chapel, and make other necessary improvements.

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