Local woman may join order whose foundress is thought to be incorrupt
By Veronica Ambuul
COLORADO SPRINGS. Long before the news of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster’s apparently incorrupt body electrified the Catholic world last April, a local woman was discerning whether to enter the Benedictine monastery she founded in 2006 in Gower, Missouri.
Semida Spadaro, the eldest of 10 children of St. Benedict parishioners Dan and Aimee Spadaro, traveled to Gower with her family at the end of June to live as an aspirant with the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles at their Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus.
“I’ve always felt very attracted to the religious life,” Spadaro said. “I’ve wanted to be a nun since I was very little. It’s been a long process of trying to discern where God was calling me,” she said.
Over the last few years, Spadaro began to take a serious look at the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, but making the decision to leave home and live at the monastery has been a gradual process, she said.
“A girl that I actually met years ago, her mom is an oblate there, and so they kind of introduced me,” Spadaro told the Herald in an interview just before she left Colorado Springs. “In 2020, I went to a girls’ camp and one of the activities was to stay a night at the Benedictine convent. One of the sisters gave us a vocations talk and told us about her story.”
“It wasn’t until 2021 that I wrote to them asking to do a discernment visit,” Spadaro said. “I went out there twice for a week each time; I just worked and prayed with them to live their whole lifestyle,” she said. “I thought after I went on my first visit, that it would be really clear — I would go and the answer would just fall in my lap. It didn’t really work like that.”
“After the second visit, I spoke with the novice mistress and I had a whole lot of peace, and I really felt like this might be where God was calling me. But it still took some time for me to ask to be admitted,” Spadaro said.
If Spadaro remains at the monastery beyond the aspirancy period, which lasts about two months, she will become a postulant for about a year. The next step would be to enter a three-year novitiate.
The community is considered to be semi-cloistered; it is contemplative and parts of their property are off limits to the public, but the sisters are allowed more contact with the outside world than in a cloistered community.
“They do stay where they are, but when friends or family come to visit, there’s phyical contact, so it’s not fully-enclosed like the Carmelites,” Spadaro said. “And they do leave (the grounds) on some occasions.”
Spadaro never had the chance to meet Sister Wilhelmina, who died in 2019. But that doesn’t mean that the hubbub over the order’s foundress hasn’t impacted her.
“While we were there waiting for Semida to ring the doorbell to the convent, a big tour bus rolled up and all these pilgrims poured out,” said Semida’s mother, Aimee Spadaro. “I was taking pictures of her walking through the door when I realized that people behind me were taking pictures also.”
Nonetheless, Aimee Spadaro said she and her family have good memories of the trip.
“It was a beautiful experience to be there as a family and see her go through the door and how lovingly she was welcomed,” said Aimee Spadaro.
“As soon as she rang the doorbell, the sister who answered the door was the sister (Semida) shadowed two years ago.”