Faith’s Guiding Light: The Journey of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster

Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, OSB, was an African-American nun who founded the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in 1995 at the age of 70.

She left behind a legacy of faith, music, and holiness that has attracted many pilgrims to her monastery in rural Missouri, where her body was discovered as possibly incorrupt in 2023.

But who were her siblings, and what role did they play in her life and vocation?

In this article, we will explore the family background and personal stories of Sister Wilhelmina and her four brothers and sisters.

Mary Elizabeth Lancaster: The Second Child of Five

Sister Wilhelmina was born Mary Elizabeth Lancaster on April 13, 1924, in St. Louis, Missouri.

She was the second child of five born to Catholic parents who were descendants of enslaved African Americans from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

She grew up in a deeply pious home, where she learned to love God and the Church.

She had a mystical experience at her first Communion at age 9 when Jesus invited her to be his. She said yes, and from then on, she had her heart set on becoming a nun.

James Lancaster: The Oldest Brother and a World War II Veteran

James Lancaster was the oldest child of the Lancaster family. He was born in 1922 and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was wounded in action. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his bravery and sacrifice.

He returned to St. Louis after the war and married his childhood sweetheart, Dorothy.

They had six children and remained faithful Catholics.

AN lmage of sister wilhelmina lancaster
He often wrote to her and visited her whenever he could.

James was very proud of his sister Mary Elizabeth and supported her decision to join the Oblate Sisters of Providence, an order of Black nuns in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1941.

Joseph Lancaster: The Youngest Brother and a Civil Rights Activist

Joseph Lancaster was the youngest child of the Lancaster family.

He was born in 1930 and grew up during the era of segregation and discrimination.

He witnessed the injustices and violence that his people faced and decided to join the civil rights movement.

joseph participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, and the Selma to Montgomery marches.

He was arrested several times and beaten by the police, but he never gave up his fight for equality and justice.

He admired his sister Mary Elizabeth for her courage and dedication to God.

Margaret Lancaster: The Third Child and a Music Teacher

Margaret Lancaster was the third child of the Lancaster family.

She was born in 1926 and had a natural talent for music.

She learned to play the piano, the violin, and the guitar.

She graduated from the Juilliard School of Music and became a music teacher at a local high school.

He also sang in the choir and played the organ at her parish church.

She shared her love of music with her sister Mary Elizabeth, who also had a beautiful voice and a musical ear.

They often sang together and exchanged songs and hymns.

Margaret encouraged her sister to pursue her dream of founding a contemplative order of nuns who would sing the praises of God.

John Lancaster: The Fourth Child and a Doctor

John Lancaster was the fourth child of the Lancaster family.

He was born in 1928 and had a keen interest in science and medicine. He excelled in his studies and graduated from Harvard Medical School.

An lmage of john lanchester
John Lancaster: The Fourth Child and a Doctor

He became a doctor and specialized in cardiology.

He worked at a prestigious hospital and saved many lives.

John was also a generous philanthropist and donated to various charities and causes.

He respected his sister Mary Elizabeth for her compassion and service to God.

He often sent her donations and gifts to support her convent and her sisters.

John also visited her regularly and checked on her health.


OSB was a remarkable woman who followed God’s call and founded a new religious community at the age of 70.

She was also a beloved sister who had four siblings who loved her and supported her in her vocation.

Her siblings were James, Joseph, Margaret, and John, who were all successful and faithful in their ways.

They were a close-knit family who shared a common bond of faith, love, and music.

They were proud of their sister and her legacy, and they prayed for her canonization.

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