GALLUP, N.M. – A slain Catholic nun who lived and worked on the Navajo Indian reservation was remembered at funeral services Saturday for her passion for the poor.
A tearful, standing-room only crowd attended a funeral Mass for 64-year-old Sister Marguerite Bartz at Gallup’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. Bartz was laid to rest later Saturday just across the state line in St. Michaels, Ariz., on a rocky hillside overlooking the reservation where she lived for the last decade.
Bartz was dedicated to working with the poor, and her duties included giving advice on raising children, running religious education classes and traveling to the homes of Navajo elders on remote parts of the reservation.
People often suggested that she take a break from her responsibilities, said the Rev. Gilbert Schneider, a Franciscan priest who worked with Bartz at the Guadalupe Indian Mission in Pena Blanco, N.M., and at St. Berard Catholic Church in Navajo, N.M.
But she would typically reject the idea, Schneider told the hundreds who gathered.
“I have to be here for my people,” Bartz would say, according to Schneider.
Bartz’s body was discovered Sunday in her home on St. Berard’s property.
Authorities announced on Friday the arrest of Reehahlio Carroll. The 18-year-old allegedly broke into Bartz’s trailer home in search of cash or valuable items and has been charged with the “unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.”
Many funeral attendees wore memorial ribbons on their shirts, jackets and blouses in honor of Bartz.
Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament President Patricia Suchalski told mourners that during her 43 years as a nun, Bartz showed her compassion daily for God and for God’s people – especially the poor.