ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (KMSP) - They came to heal. Several hundred members of the St. Joseph, Minn. community gathered at the Church of Saint Joseph on Sunday afternoon to participate in a “Prayer Service for Healing,” open to anyone impacted by Jacob Wetterling’s story.
The ceremony started with remarks by Father Jerome Tupa, who told attendees, “we welcome everyone as we gather to pray for healing and to remember Jacob.”
In a reflection, another priest, Father Nick Kleepsie, said, “Jacob became a friend to me as he likely became a friend to you —if you knew him or not.”
Inside the church full of white ribbons, parishioners sang songs including “You are Mine”, “The Servant Song" and “How Can I Keep from Singing?”
And to the song, “Listen,” by Red Grammer, community members carried 27 candles and placed them at the front of the sanctuary — 27 candles representing the nearly 27 years Jacob was missing. Following the candles were children carrying ribbons of hope, also placed at the front of the sanctuary.
Attendees prayed for "abducted, abused, or exploited children everywhere” and for “inner peace, after years of praying, hoping for answers, and holding on to hope for Jacob.”
The service acknowledged the Wetterling family, and the work of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, thanking the Wetterlings for “their never failing example of hope, courage, leadership, graciousness.”
Speakers, including Bishop Donald Kettler, noted the loss of innocence caused by Jacob’s kidnapping and death, saying “I don’t think I should be praying for closure, but that you can move forward with some peace and hope.”
The service included prayers “for all those questioned and living under suspicion over the years," and even a prayer for “God’s mercy wherever those who abuse continue to hurt others, especially children. And wherever people need to experience deliverance from unspeakable crimes of abuse.”