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Catholic women kneeling in front of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster’s apparently incorrupt body in Gower, MissouriKristin Orr, Denean Williams & Beth Lamping

(LifeSiteNews) — During this time of what Pope John Paul II called “a silent apostasy” – and with scandals far and wide in the Church, why would so many Catholics stop what they are doing and travel great distances to view what many of them believe to be the miracle of an incorrupt body of a religious sister who founded a traditional order of Benedictine nuns living in the middle of Gower, Missouri? 

“This enthusiasm makes it clear there is a deep hunger in our society for the miraculous – a desire to see the power of God with our own eyes,” said W. Shawn McKnight, Bishop of neighboring diocese Jefferson City, in a statement he released May 26. 

Kristin Orr, a homeschool mother of 12 from Batesville, Indiana, who traveled 9 hours each way with some of her children, confirms this hunger spoken about by McKnight: “I have never had the opportunity to travel overseas to visit historical sites dedicated to incorruptible saints,” Orr told LifeSiteNews. “Sister Wilhelmina’s incorrupt body was only a little under a 9-hour drive, so I did not want to miss this miraculous opportunity,” she said. 

Catholic women kneeling in front of Wilhelmina Lancaster’s apparently incorrupt body in Gower, Missouri (Credit: Kristin Orr, Denean Williams & Beth Lamping)

Our Catholic Church has procedures to investigate purported miracles and the causes for sainthood,” said McKnight. “It is important to remember these processes are slow, prudent efforts,” he cautioned. 

Indeed, some may question the fact that the body was exhumed after only 4 years underground. And others, like Denean Williams, another mother from Batesville, Indiana, are nonplussed due to an unswerving faith. Some might call it, a “both-and” approach. Catholics have access to the sacraments and deep spiritual life inspired by the saints and doctors of the Church as well as a deep sense of seeing God’s working in the temporal sphere of His Mystical Body of Christ “on earth as it is in heaven.” 

Williams had a friend who had very recently told her about some very disconcerting health news. “My friend who has cancer had just shared news with me that her tumor had grown to eight times its normal size and that there were some issues with her lungs that she was afraid to look at,” Williams told LifeSiteNews. “I told her I would pray,” Williams added. “What do you say when a good friend tells you that?” 

On Saturday morning, Williams said she was on her way to Mass when her friend called her again and asked her if she wanted to go to Gower to see the body of Sister Wilhelmina. Before she knew it, they were heading to Missouri with her friend and children in order to pray at the body of the founding sister. 

Orr’s decision to go was likewise spontaneous, perhaps inspired by the Holy Spirit that blows as it wills. “For me personally it was such a last minute decision to go that I am still currently processing my whole trip there and back,” she said. “I am still in awe that God allowed me to be part of this moment in history.” 

Williams said that prior to committing to the trip to Gower, she knew very little about the nun and had only recently heard some thoughts from friends on the matter. “That’s when the ‘wow’ factor set in,” she said. “I just realized that my friend was answering a call and I wanted to support her.” 

Williams described her experience as one of great inner peace and joy having seen the nun’s body. “I would highly recommend that others go and experience this beautiful gift from God,” she said. “Sister Wilhelmina has my heart.” 

Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster’s apparently incorrupt body on display at the Benedictine convent in Gower, Missouri (Credit: Kristin Orr, Denean Williams & Beth Lamping)

McKnight, while alluding to the desire for men of all ages to experience the presence and love of God, recommended to seek out Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament and in Holy Communion. “Everything else is secondary.” 

Orr said that while the Church and the world are living in very confusing and uncertain times, she was thankful to God for this reassuring gift and the reminder that He is here now and in control.  

“We just need to trust and surrender to him.”