Edges of folded slips of paper with prayer requests hang out of the slots in Ecumen Detroit Lakes' new prayer wall. About half of the slots filled with requests within just one week of the wall being up.

"She would have loved this," said Don Tietz, thinking about his mother, Odelia, as he looked at the wall.

Odelia Tietz died in September at 92 years old. She was a resident at The Cottage in Ecumen, previously volunteering throughout Ecumen for more than 15 years. Her son built the prayer wall in her memory.

"She was a real prayerful person; very religious person," Tietz said, adding that Odelia was always involved with churches, held a grief support group, made two trips to Jerusalem and more. "This would have been something that would've been important to her."

Don built the prayer wall after he and his wife, Coleen, were given the idea by Ecumen's chaplain, Peter Gallatin.

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"We were going to do something, we just didn't know what," Tietz said. The couple went to Gallatin to see if the chapel could use anything and Gallatin mentioned raising money to buy a prayer wall.

Coleen had a better idea, telling Gallatin "I think Don could build this," she said.

A quick build

Before creating an image in his head, Tietz looked into materials and different prices for the project. He came across Country Wood Projects in Audubon, finding exactly what he needed there.

"They gave me a really good price on (the oak wood)," Tietz said. "The other stuff, they donated that. Because of what it was for."

As a retired contractor, once Tietz started making the wall he was quick to finish it. Coleen helped him match the colors for the prayer wall to the colors of the pre-existing chapel fixtures.

"He had some things and I said 'not-uh,'" she said with a laugh.

She and Gallatin also helped Tietz with an unexpected addition to the wall: a kneeler.

"The kneeler came into being kind of late," Gallatin said, explaining that he found it deep in Ecumen's storage. At the time, it was a starkly different shade of brown than the prayer wall, but he asked Coleen if Don would want to add it in. "She said 'Well, I'll talk to Don,' not knowing that it (the prayer wall) was pretty much all done."

But, Don added it in, taking the kneeler apart and completely redoing it to match the wall. He finished everything on Monday, Jan. 13, bringing it to Ecumen to be hung up the next day.

Prayer requests in the wall can come in many different forms. Whether that's just a name, a cause, a situation, or something else, Ecumen's chaplain Peter Gallatin will read and pray over the request. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)
Prayer requests in the wall can come in many different forms. Whether that's just a name, a cause, a situation, or something else, Ecumen's chaplain Peter Gallatin will read and pray over the request. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)

The first service

Residents and their family and friends saw the prayer wall for the first time at the Sunday, Jan. 19, service. Prayer requests can be added to the wall until Ecumen's 10 a.m. service starts Sunday, Jan. 26.

"Every week we have a time of prayer during church so I'll just pray over them during that time," Gallatin said. "Because we can't have fire here because of all the oxygen in use, I will probably take them (the prayer requests) home and burn them there, releasing the prayers to heaven."

After that service, prayer requests can be added again. Pens and paper for people to write on will be available all month long; the requests will only be taken out for the last service in every month.

"If you ever come in here and every slot is full, it doesn't mean you can (add one)," Gallatin said. "The prayer wall is never full. There can always be prayers added."

To make a prayer request, go to Ecumen's main entrance at 1415 Madison Ave. The chapel and prayer wall are to the right when you walk through the front doors.