There are winning streaks and losing streaks. There are running streaks, lucky streaks, straight-A streaks and selling streaks. But did you know there are also praying streaks? At a small convent in western Wisconsin, nuns have been praying nonstop for the past 137 years.
The nuns at the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse have been praying continually since 11 a.m. Aug. 1, 1878. They pray night and day for the ill, the suffering and anyone who sends a prayer request. The nuns haven’t kept track of the exact number of people they’ve prayed for since 1878, but they estimate that they’ve prayed for at least 150,000 in the last decade alone.
And they’re not alone in their pursuit. In 1997, the sisters began asking for prayer helpers due to dwindling numbers at the convent. Today, there are about 180 laypeople who help the 100 nuns continue their round-the-clock prayers.
Known as perpetual Eucharistic adoration in the Catholic religion, constant praying dates back to the 13th century in France. Several Catholic convents have kept up that tradition over the centuries. The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are relative newcomers to the tradition, but they are fervently making up for lost time. Over the past 137 years, the nuns have continued praying through floods, a flu outbreak, snowstorms and even a fire at the property next door.
The prayer requests keep coming in person and via phone calls, emails and online forms. So the sisters keep on praying.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Sister Sarah Hennessey said that with all the substitutes and prayer partners, the convent has no trouble keeping up the nonstop prayers. But every now and again there’s a hole in the schedule that the nuns fill by simply continuing to pray past their allotted time.
“If it’s 11 o’clock at night and it’s my hour and another sister doesn’t show up, I can’t just go to bed,” said Sister Hennessey. “You’re like, ‘It’s 137 years — I have to stay awake.'”
Credit: Jenn Savedge