Sister Mary Mercy, a member of the Franciscan Immaculate Sisters, was found dead in her convent chapel in Jalandhar Diocese in Punjab state on Nov. 30. (Photo supplied)
The family of a Catholic nun who was found hanged in northern India are demanding a police probe into her death after suspecting foul play.
The body of 30-year-old Sister Mary Mercy, a member of the Franciscan Immaculate Sisters, was found on Nov. 30 hanging from a window of her convent chapel in Jalandhar Diocese in Punjab state.
The nun’s body was sent to her home parish in Alappuzha district of the southern state of Kerala on Dec. 2. She belongs to St. Andrew's Basilica Parish of Arthunkal in Alappuzha Diocese, said diocesan public relations officer Father Xavier Kudiamseery.
The nun’s father, John Ouseph, has filed a complaint with the Alappuzha district collector, the top government official in the district, demanding a probe into her death.
The complaint said the family suspected foul play and called for a second autopsy in Kerala following one done in Punjab “to bring out the truth and ensure” justice to the family.
Sister Mercy suffered from no pressures that could force her to take the extreme step of suicide, Ouseph said.
She was jovial and spoke about buying Christmas gifts and about planning for her birthday on Dec. 2
The family had a telephone conversation with her on the night before her body was found. “She was jovial and spoke about buying Christmas gifts and about planning for her birthday on Dec. 2. The conversation ended with a promise to call on her birthday,” Ouseph said.
“The convent has not explained to me the situation that led to her death,” the complaint said, adding that her behavior exhibited no sign of mental pressure or physical ailment.
But the congregation’s delegate vicar, Sister Maria Indira, ruled out any foul play in an official communiqué to media.
She said Sister Mercy had left a suicide note asking for a pardon from her family members and her congregation for taking the extreme step.
Her body was sent to Kerala because her suicide note expressed a wish to be buried in her home parish, the communiqué said.
Sister Indira said Sister Mercy was preparing for her final profession in January during her visit to her home state. “She was also very pleasant and happy.”
Just like her family members, “the nuns in the congregation are deeply in pain over this incident,” Sister Indira’s note said.
Funeral prayers and burial are scheduled to take place only after the post-mortem in Alappuzha
A Catholic priest working in Jalandhar Diocese, who did not want to be named, told UCA News that the nun “was happy and was seen talking to her family members on the night of her suicide.”
Two nuns have accompanied her body and are ready to present themselves before any investigation agencies after the family raised suspicions, he said.
A priest of Alappuzha Diocese, who also sought anonymity, said the nun's body was scheduled to be brought directly to the government-run medical college in the district on Dec. 2 for an autopsy.
“Funeral prayers and burial are scheduled to take place only after the post-mortem in Alappuzha. If it is delayed, the funeral can happen only tomorrow,” he told UCA News on Dec. 2