Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Twenty years of perpetual prayer at St. Mary’s in Sleepy Eye March 22, 2018

This painting of a woman in prayer hangs in my home, a gift from the family of Faribault artist Rhody Yule. I met Rhody several years before his death and helped organize two art shows of his work. I treasure this inspiring piece by Rhody as a reminder of our friendship and of his faith.


Pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:40)

“Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Matthew 26: 40 – 41)

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)


Praying during a service at the Old Stone Church, rural Kenyon, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo June 2010.


FOR THE FAITHFUL at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Sleepy Eye, those words from Scripture hold deep meaning. Not simply as words they should follow. But as words they do follow.


At Moland Lutheran Church, rural Kenyon, prayer needs are posted. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo June 2013.


For 20 years, 24/7, the parishioners at this southwestern Minnesota prairie church have practiced Perpetual Adoration by praying. Every single hour. Of every single day. In one-hour shifts. For two decades. Remarkable.


A statue of Mary in prayer stands outside St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Elko New Market. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo March 2017.


Today they pray in the Adoration Chapel housed in a new addition to the aged St. Mary’s Church. Originally, congregants prayed in the convent chapel, then the church.


The priest is about to proceed up the aisle to begin Mass at the Basilica of Saint Stanislaus Kostka in Winona. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo September 2015.


Randy Krzmarzick has taken the 5 a.m. shift for all those 20 years. He writes about his experiences in a column posted on sleepyeyeonline. (Click here to read.) It’s an interesting read, especially for someone like me, a life-long Lutheran married to a former Catholic. But no matter your faith—or not—you will find value within Randy’s honest and humorous story. He suggests that we all need to quiet our hearts and seek silence in this busy and noisy world.


Praying at a car show at St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, rural Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2016.


Even he struggles to follow his own advice, admitting to sometimes thinking about the price of soybeans or a baseball game when he should be praying.


One of life’s simple delights: Wildflowers in the prairie of the Valley Grove churches, rural Nerstrand. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Life brims with distractions. We’re too busy. Too scheduled. Too whatever to notice the simple things in life. Or the people we love. Or those who are strangers and need our compassion.


Photographed at St. Stan’s in Winona. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo September 2015.


There is much to be learned from the faithful of St. Mary’s in their two decades of dedication, discipline and devotion to prayer. In the silence, they have heard the quiet. And I expect, too, have found peace.

RELATED: Click here to read a story about Kathy Wichmann, who for 20 years has scheduled parishioners to fill those 24/7 prayer slots at St. Mary’s.


© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “Twenty years of perpetual prayer at St. Mary’s in Sleepy Eye”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    That is amazing. I am really in awe of their dedication and devotion. What a great story. Thanks for starting my morning off perfectly.

  2. Ruth Says:

    We need perpetual prayer. Pittsburgh has a St.Stanislaus, too. And the wildflowers spoke to me on this snowy, yes snowy, after the Spring tease day.

    • Yes, we do need perpetual prayer.

      I found that name of St. Stanislaus to be quite unusual, but maybe not as much as I thought considering the one in Pittsburgh.

      If it’s any consolation, my part of Minnesota is under a winter storm watch for Friday – Saturday with up to eight inches of snow expected. Sigh.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Even he struggles to follow his own advice, admitting to sometimes thinking about the price of soybeans or a baseball game when he should be praying.

    I must confess that from time to time while praying in church, my mind wanders into system analysis mode and I ponder, “How could I automate this?”

  4. Valerie Says:

    Praying continuously for 20 years….that’s awesome.Thanks for sharing this story. Sounds like a Boyd Huppert Minnesota Bound story.

  5. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    This takes me back to my childhood (I am also a former Catholic, like your husband). Even though I no longer practice that faith, prayer or meditation or whatever one calls it is a necessary way to find peace and inner guidance for many.

  6. beautiful photos. THE HANDS!)))) Oh, Yes.

    Prayer is POWERFUL, transforms lives.

    Without it, I wouldn’t be here.

    xx thank you, A.

  7. Sue Ready Says:

    this is quite remarkable for decades these parishioners could maintain perpetual adoration gathering 24/7 and indeed this world needs prayers and a better direction.I liked the woman in prayer painting for its simplicity and I also noticed in this posting you have captured many other hands in prayer-a bit though provoking for me.

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    What a great story thanks for sharing. That painting and stained glass are stunning. Can you imagine the things that were running through the artists head while creating it

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