Statement from Bishop McKnight regarding the remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster

The Most Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Bishop of Jefferson City, has issued the following statement regarding the remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster:

I want to briefly address the interest in our neighboring diocese regarding the mortal remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, the foundress of the Benedictine Abbey in Gower, Missouri. Her remains were recently exhumed by the order to be moved to their chapel.

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. 

But with this excitement comes a need for caution. The Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Bishop of Kansas City — St. Joseph, who has pastoral responsibility for the monastery, has announced he is creating a process to understand the nature of the condition of Sister Wilhelmina’s remains. You can read his message here.

Our Catholic Church has procedures to investigate purported miracles and the causes for sainthood. It is important to remember these processes are slow, prudent efforts.  There has been no declaration of a miracle, nor has the process to consider the cause for canonization of Sr. Wilhelmina Lancaster begun based upon heroic virtues. 

For these reasons, and for the concerns of civic authorities for the safety and well-being of visitors, I discourage anyone in the Diocese of Jefferson City from visiting the Benedictine Abbey in Gower, Missouri, or treating the mortal remains of Sister Wilhelmina as relics.

As we pray and wait, I want to again acknowledge the natural desire to experience the miraculous. 

If you are feeling this right now, please seek out the Eucharist. The real presence of Christ in our celebration of the Mass and in our reception of His Body and Blood in sacramental communion is the true center of our faith. Everything else is secondary.

Please also seek out sacramental reconciliation and experience the miracle of God’s forgiveness.

These sacraments are available to all of us at our local parish church. 

I also join Bishop Johnston in his call inviting everyone to continue their prayers for the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles; for all women religious; and all the baptized in our common vocation to holiness, with hope and trust in the Lord.