For a lot of people, prayer is something that happens before a meal or at bed time - if it happens at all. But for a very special group of women in La Crosse, prayer is a way of life. "I can't say how many times a day I think or talk to God," says Sister Ronalda Hophan. "It is a part of who I am."
In truth, prayer is a part of who they all are and prayer is the reason these Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are celebrating. "It is 135 years that we have had around the clock of prayer for the community."
They've prayed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since they started back on August 1st, 1878. And first to ring in this milestone is a sister with a long, long history of praising God.
Meet Sister Mary Myron Stork. "S-T-O-R-K. The bird. The good bird."
Mary Myron is the oldest active sister with the FSPA, just three years shy of a century.
"You would never guess she's 97. God has been good to her," says Hophan.
And although Mary Myron is the oldest sister here, she's spent most of her life elsewhere.
Sister Mary Myron Stork was born Martina Stork on a small farm in Carroll County, Iowa. "I skipped two grades in school."
At 16 she felt called to a life of faith and headed to La Crosse to the then high school for aspiring nuns. "I thought it would be an easier way to get closer to God."
Besides God, Mary Myron's other true love has always been teaching. "I have taught in quite a few places."
She started teaching in Wisconsin and then spent a few years in the state of Washington. "Then I came back to La Crosse and taught two years at Holy trinity. Then I came to the school here for 5 years and I also was principal. Then I went out to the state of Montana. Then I came back to Wisconsin. And then I went to my home county, Carroll and taught there for 18 years and was principal. I went to northeast Iowa in the Calmar area. Then I was down in Cedar Rapids for 3 years."
Her last stop was back in Kentucky where she spent the next 20 years. "And then it was time for me to come celebrate my 70th jubilee. I came in 2005 and I retired here then. At what age? At 89!"
And even in retirement, she shows no signs of slowing down. "NO! Absolutely not," says Hophan. "Many of us have had knee replacements and are limping around. Not her. She just keeps a going. You'll have to ask he how she stays in such good health. I don't know."
No surprise, Sister Mary Myron credits prayer and maintaining a schedule. You will usually find her taking a prayer shift in the very early morning hours. "I got up at a quarter to four this morning. I get up early every morning whether I have a scheduled hour or not. It's the best way to start my day."
She prays for people she knows and many she doesn't. "I think prayer is powerful. And I keep on praying for something until I get it. And I think most of my prayers are answered. I really do. And then you have to start thanking. Then I pray prayers of thanks. Because he heard me."
She is honored to be a part of this sisterhood of prayer. "It is a pleasure and a joy to get up and go down to the adoration chapel and spend an hour talking to God. Planning your day with him and taking care of all the intentions you have. It makes my day. I call it my vitamin. Vitamin 'P'."