May 28, 2023

Dear St. Martin of Tours Family and Friends,

This past week, the news broke about Sr. Wilhelmina, the foundress of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary Queen of the Apostles. Four years after her death at the age of 95 on May 29, 2019, on the Vigil of the solemnity of the Ascension, her body was discovered to be incorrupt. That is, her body has not decayed, despite not being embalmed and being buried in a simple wooden box in the ground. Her religious habit had not decayed either. This highly unusual occurrence is not uncommon among Catholic saints, and it is a sign that God desires such a soul to become widely known and loved.

Screen Shot 2023 05 27 At 7.15.48 PmI knew Sr. Wilhelmina when I was a seminarian with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in the late 1990s. She used to arrive at our seminary in a wheelchair. Her face was always radiant with joy. You just felt so good around her. We all knew there was something special about Sr. Wilhelmina. We had no idea she was going to be a saint.

She was born Mary Elizabeth Lancaster on Palm Sunday, April 13, 1924. As a young girl living in St. Louis, Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster wanted to become a nun. At age thirteen, she wrote a letter requesting to go to the convent as soon as possible because she wanted to become a nun. She joined the Oblate Sisters of Providence, beginning her formation in 1941 at age 17. Sr. Wilhelmina spent many of her years with the Oblate Sisters of Providence teaching in schools. Throughout her career, she taught in Baltimore, Washington, Charleston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Miami.

Then in 1995 at the age of 70, Sr. Wilhelmina felt called to start a new religious community: “It would seem I’ve done a very foolish thing!” The order she founded, the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, is primarily contemplative, devoting approximately five hours a day to the chanting of the Mass and Divine Office in Latin according to the Roman Rite of 1962. They pray especially for priests. Their remaining time is spent doing manual labor, such as sewing vestments for priests all over the world, gardening, cooking, cleaning, farm work, and other duties. They also devote time to mental prayer and prayerful reading. Sister’s life was marked by much suffering, tragedy, courage, and an unshakeable faith. You can purchase a biography of her life, God’s Will: The Life and Works of Sr. Mary Wilhelmina at this website:

When asked why she became a nun in the first place, Sr. Wilhelmina’s answer was simple, firm, and genuine — “Because I was in love with Our Lord.” In my remaining time here at St. Martin of Tours, I will focus in a special way on the secret that made Sr. Wilhelmina a saint: How to fall madly in love with Jesus. As I write these words, I must tell you that I myself do not know the answer. But I will be praying to Sr. Wilhelmina for an answer. Sister Wilhelmina — Pray for every person reading these words; cause us to know Jesus personally, and fall in love with Him. Work in us the only miracle

signature Waldman

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