Category Archives: Father Nicholas VanDenBroeke

November 5, 2017 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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November 5, 2017

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time


“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;

but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”


Latin and the Liturgy (Part 2)

(Continued from article two weeks ago…)


The use of Latin in the liturgy has long been esteemed in the Church, and it shows the universality of the Church.

Additionally, it is common that people should worship in a sacred language.  This has been true about the Jews, who worship in Hebrew, although very few people speak Hebrew.  Even at the time of Jesus, everyone spoke Aramaic or Greek, yet Hebrew was used in worship.

Latin has the power to inspire us to mystery and beauty.  Consider my singing of the Ave Maria after Communion.  Most people don’t know the exact words I am saying (though they may know it is the Hail Mary), but they are inspired by the beauty of the song.  It has the power to lift our minds and hearts to God.  So too, when praying in Latin, we may not know every word we are saying, but we know the parts of the Mass, and know, for example, when we sing “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth” we are singing “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”, because that’s the same time we sing that prayer every Sunday.  There is a certain sense of mystery and awe in using a sacred language.  Just as the Mass itself is set apart from the rest of our busy lives, so Latin is set apart and adds to the wonder and mystery of this great event.

In fact, St. Theresa of Avila, who prayed the breviary in Latin with her community, received a special grace to suddenly understand everything she was praying in Latin.  And she later commented that it did not in fact help her prayer, because she already was raising her mind and heart to God fully in her prayer of the breviary, even though it was in Latin and she didn’t understand everything she prayed.  Rather, her heart was encountering God in love and awe and mystery, not just in known words.

Latin helps form our identity as Catholics.  It reminds us that our faith is over 2000 years old, and that we stand in continuity with countless saints and martyrs that have worshiped together for thousands of years in one common language, Latin.  It reminds us that our faith is not isolated to one local area or one time period in history.  Down through the ages, our Roman Catholic faith has had a constant living tradition bound by one common language.  That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

The Church has a beautiful liturgical treasury.  We need to rediscover it, learn it, and embrace it.

Hearing Latin during mass should give us strength and give us pride to be Catholic.  It should enliven us and help us remember that we have been “set apart” for God, to be holy.  And it should remind us of the faith we share with all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the entire world.

In conclusion, I do plan to integrate a little more Latin into our IC Masses over time.  To begin with, the homeschool children are learning the Mass parts in Latin and will soon begin singing those for our Friday morning Mass.  In the future, I would love to have our whole parish learn the basic Mass parts in Latin, as Pope Benedict XVI suggested that we teach the faithful to “sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant” (Sacramentum Caritatis 62).

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke


October 29, 2017 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 29, 2017

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Priesthood Sunday

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, & with all your mind.”


Praying for the Dead

November is a special month for remembering and praying for the dead.  We begin the month with two particular feast days: All Saints Day (November 1st), and All Souls Day (November 2nd).

On All Saints Day, we remember the holy men and women who have gone before us in faith.  These are the men and women whom the Church has canonized, or officially recognized as in heaven.  We learn from the example of their lives of faith, and we seek to imitate them.  We also ask for their intercession.  Just as they prayed for their family and friends when they were on this earth, so now in heaven, they continue to pray for all their brother and sisters united in Christ as their prayers ascend to the throne of God.  As Scripture says: “and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God” (Revelation 8:4).

As Catholics, we also have a long tradition on All Souls Day of praying for our loved ones who have gone before us.  When someone dies, we naturally want to say things like “they are in heaven now”.  And while this is our confident hope through Christ, the reality is that most people will likely first go to purgatory.  The Catechism says it this way, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).

The Catechism then goes on to encourage prayers for the dead: “ ‘Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sins’ (2 Maccabees 12:46).  From the beginning the Church as honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.  The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead” (CCC 1032).

On All Souls Day we pray for the souls in Purgatory, especially our loved ones, that through the mercy of our Lord, they may quickly be admitted into the Heavenly Kingdom.

I encourage you during this month of November to be sure to take some time to remember and pray for the dead.  Perhaps even visit the cemetery where your loved ones are buried.  And as we reflect on the reality of death, this gives way to the promise of life.  Because we believe that “As Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Finally, an All Souls Day envelop is included in your giving packet.  We invite you to include the names of those you would like remembered, and put it in the regular collection.  Envelopes will be placed in front of the altar throughout the month of November as a symbol of our prayers for your loved ones.

Know of my daily prayers for you.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke


October 22, 2017 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 22, 2017

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time


“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”


Latin and the Liturgy (Part 1)

Many parishes in the Archdiocese and indeed around the country are rediscovering the many liturgical treasures of our faith. One of these treasures is the use of Latin in the liturgy.  So, why is Latin making a comeback?  Isn’t that something we abandoned after Vatican II?  Actually no.  The idea that Latin was forbidden, or even discouraged during the Mass, is inaccurate.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document on the liturgy which initiated the liturgical reforms that followed the Council, said: “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites…But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters” (SC 36).

The document goes on to add: “Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (SC 54).

In other words, the Council saw that using a person’s native tongue (eg. English), is certainly beneficial, especially for the readings where the purpose of that part of Mass is not only worship but also learning.

Canon Law also reflects the desire for learning Latin, saying that all seminarians should learn Latin so that they can use it in pastoral ministry (cf. Canon 249).

Even more recently, Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Sacramentum Caritatis, “I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant” (62).

However, now more than 50 years after the Second Vatican Council, most parishes have no use of Latin at all, and many priests, musicians, and liturgy coordinators are entirely opposed to its use. So why does the Church still encourage Latin at Mass?

Latin is still the official and universal language of the Church. The importance of this is not as easily seen on the local level, but it is very important on the global level.  I have been to Mass in many countries and in many languages, and the wonderful thing about being Catholic is that you always know what is happening at every Mass, even if you don’t understand what is being said.  But furthermore, the wonderful thing about Latin is that it can unite the faithful “from every nation, tribe, people and language” in participation in the same prayers of the Mass (Revelation 7:9).  It has made me very proud to be Catholic as I stand at Mass with the Holy Father in Rome, along with thousands of other people from around the world, and we can all pray the Mass together in our Church’s language of Latin.

(To be continued…)

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke


October 15, 2017 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 15, 2017

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Many are invited, but few are chosen.”


The Angelus

There are several ways of praying throughout the day.  One of the most traditional ways has been to pray the Angelus.  The name “Angelus”, which means “Angel” or “The Angel”, comes from the first words of this prayer in Latin, “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Maria” – “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.”

The Angelus is traditionally prayed at three times during the day: 6am, noon, and 6pm.  Not only does this encourage our praying throughout the day, but it also helps us begin the day, pause in the middle of the day, and come to the close of the day by meditating on Christ and his mother.

The words of the Angelus reflect one of the greatest mysteries of our faith: The Incarnation—God becoming man.  When saying the words, “And the Word was made flesh”, it is customary to genuflect or bow as a way of humbling ourselves before God who humbled himself before us in his Incarnation.  The words of the prayer are scriptural (cf. Luke 1:26-38, John 1:14), and as we pray, we take up the words of the Angel Gabriel and of Mary herself as our own.  And what a great reminder it is for us to remember Mary’s “Yes” to God, “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.”  As we pray the Angelus, we seek to be humble, obedient, and open to God’s will as Mary was.

This is a beautiful prayer all Catholics should memorize, and I encourage you to try to incorporate it into your day as you are able.


V: The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

R: And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary…


V: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

R: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary…


V: And the Word was made flesh.

R: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary…


V: Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


V: Let us pray,

Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.  Through the same Christ Our Lord.



God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke


October 8, 2017 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 8, 2017

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Clergy Appreciation Sunday


“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Our Lady of Fatima

Last week I encouraged everyone to join me in praying the novena leading up to the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s appearing on October 13th.  Today I want to share details about a wonderful opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence on October 13th.

In order to worthily celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Apparitions of Fatima, by the mandate of Pope Francis, it is granted a Jubilee Year, with the inherent plenary indulgence, from the 27th November 2016 to the 26th November 2017.

The plenary indulgence of the jubilee is granted:

  1. to the faithful who visit the Shrine of Fatima in pilgrimage and devotedly participate in a celebration or prayer in honour of the Virgin Mary, pray the Our Father, recite the symbol of faith (Creed) and invoke Our Lady of Fatima;
  2. to the pious faithful who visit with devotion an image of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly displayed for public veneration in any temple, oratory or adequate place, during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions (the 13th of each month, from May to October 2017), and devotedly participate there in any celebration or prayer in honour of the Virgin Mary, pray the Our Father, recite the symbol of faith (Creed) and invoke Our Lady of Fatima;
  3. to the faithful who, due to their age, disease or other serious reason, are impeded of moving, if, repentant of all their sins and having the firm intention of performing, as soon as possible, the three conditions mentioned bellow, in front of a small image of Our Lady of Fatima, spiritually unite in the days of the apparitions to the jubilee celebrations, offering with trust to God all-merciful through Mary their prayers and pains, or the sacrifices of their own lives.

To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful, truly penitent and animated with charity, must ritually fulfil the following conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father.

In order to fulfill the obligations of this indulgence, we will be having some special devotions in honor of Our Lady of Fatima after the 8am Mass on Friday, October 13th.  This will include: Rosary, songs to Mary, adoration, and confessions.  Please join us.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke


Novena to Our Lady of Fatima

Say this prayer every day for 9 consecutive days October 5-13.

Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.

By meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in your Rosary, may we gather the fruits contained therein and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, the Peace of Christ for the world, and this favor that I so earnestly seek of you in this novena… (here mention your request).

I ask this of you, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor and for the good of all people. Amen

Then say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be (three times each)

September 24, 2017 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 24, 2017

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time


“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”



Bells at Mass

The ringing of bells at Mass has been a wonderful tradition of the Church for a long time.  Here at Immaculate Conception, we usually ring the tower bells five minutes before Mass, and the Sanctus Bells or Altar Bells during the Consecration.  Here is a short history of the use of bells in Catholic worship.

The beauty and solemnity of bells has a long tradition of being rung in praise of God, as Psalm 98:4 says, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praise!”  And again as Psalm 150:5-6 says, “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with the loud clashing cymbals!  Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Church bells have had widespread use as far back as the 9th century as a way of summoning the faithful to prayer.  Especially in a time when most people did not have a watch, these bells would be very helpful, and would be heard loud and clear anywhere near the church.  Church bells are also rung for special celebrations or events, such as weddings, funerals, feast days, or the time to pray the Angelus.

About the 13th century, what has become known as the Sanctus bells appeared in the Mass.  This name comes from the Latin word “Sanctus” which means “Holy”, and which is written on the wall of our sanctuary around the crucifix: “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth”, meaning, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”, which we sing during the Mass.  The Sanctus bell is rung to honor and glorify God, as well as to focus the attention of the faithful on the mystery of faith taking place on the altar, and to inspire us and fill us with joy.  For, through the miracle of transubstantiation, the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Sanctus bell indicates this and invites our adoration.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) mandated that bells should be rung during the Mass.  Today, the ringing of bells during the Mass is not mandated, but still encouraged.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: “A little before the Consecration, if appropriate, a minister rings a small bell as a signal to the faithful. The minister also rings the small bell at each elevation by the Priest, according to local custom.” (#150)

As this indicates, a bell ought to be rung “before the consecration”, more specifically, it is rung at the Epiclesis, which is when the priest holds his hands over the bread and wine, and calls down the Holy Spirit.

The bell is then usually rung three times at the consecration of the Body of Christ, and again three times at the consecration of the Blood of Christ.  This three-part ring is in honor of the Holy Trinity.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

September 17, 2017 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 17, 2017

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catechetical Sunday


“So will my heavenly Father do to you,

unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”


Marriage Enrichment Opportunities

Marriage is a sacrament, which means it is blessed by God and raised up to be an image of the love that Christ has for the Church.  But even though marriage is thus blessed by God, it still requires effort to keep a good marriage good.

I want to recommend a few ways for married couples to continue investing in one another and their marriage.

  1. Date nights

Carve out time once a week or once a month to go on date nights.  Get a babysitter, and spend some fun time as just the two of you.  It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day busyness and rushing around that it’s important to sometimes slow down and put a special emphasis on the most important person in your home: your spouse.

  1. Archdiocesan Marriage Conference

“Do you remember your marriage preparation retreat?  Do you wish you did?  Do you want more intimacy in your marriage?  Do you want to learn how to communicate better, more effectively and with less conflict?  Do you want to learn how to love and care for your spouse better?  Would you like to invite God to a more central role in your marriage?  We hope you are enjoying a beautiful marriage and want to help you maintain and improve it.

The Living God’s Love: The Sacrament of Marriage – Refresher Course for Married Couples will be Saturday, October 14th, from  9:00am-3:00pm at the University of St. Thomas.

  1. Marriage Encounter Weekend

“The emphasis of Worldwide Marriage Encounter is on communication between husband and wife, who spend a weekend together away from the distractions and the tensions of everyday life, to concentrate on each other.  It’s not a retreat, nor a marriage clinic, nor group sensitivity. It’s a unique approach aimed at revitalizing Christian Marriage.  This is a time for you and your spouse to be alone together. To rediscover each other and together focus on your relationship for an entire weekend. Every marriage deserves that kind of attention!  Rediscover the spark that was there on your wedding day!  Rediscover the best friend you had when you were first married!  Join the millions of couples worldwide who have learned how to keep their marriage vibrant and alive!”

The next Marriage Encounter weekends near us are: October 6-8 – In Buffalo, MN and November 17-19 – In Prior Lake.  For more information, visit

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke


September 3, 2017 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 3, 2017

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time


“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”


St. John the Baptist

On Tuesday of this past week, we celebrated the Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist, and we read at Mass the Gospel describing the circumstances of his death.  Although this story is now 2,000 in the past, is still very relevant for us today.  Why?  St. John the Baptist dies as a martyr, because he is willing to stand up for the truth about marriage.  We also face this difficult situation in our world today as the culture is turning more and more away from the natural and biblical understanding of marriage.

We must hold fast to the truth about marriage because it was taught throughout the entire bible, including by Our Lord himself: ‘“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”’ (Matthew 19:4-6).

We do not have the right or power to change the definition or permanence of marriage, because marriage is not an invention of man, it is an invention of God.

That being said, we must always love and be very compassionate to those who are in an irregular marital situation.  We cannot point fingers or make condemnations.  However, compassion does not mean we must compromise the truth.

An analogy might be the way we love and show compassion to someone caught in an addiction to drugs or alcohol.  While the addiction itself is harmful and cannot be supported, we must show our undivided support and care for the person who is struggling with the addiction.  In fact, it is because we love the person that we are willing to tell them the truth about their situation, and pray and encourage them to have the strength they need to become free from the addiction.

Standing up for Jesus and the Truth he taught can sometimes be difficult.  In fact, Jesus promised us that following him would be difficult.  He said in today’s Gospel: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  Following Jesus is the most wonderful and fulfilling thing possible because it fills us with joy in this life and hope of eternal life to come, but it also requires us to also be willing to be “persecuted for the sake of righteousness”.

May we have the courage to not be afraid, but like St. John the Baptist, boldly to stand up for the truth about marriage.

You are in my daily prayers.  Please pray for me.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

August 27, 2017 – August 27, 2017

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August 27, 2017

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time


“Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”


Disposal of Religious Articles

It is a wonderful practice to have and use religious articles such as rosaries, scapulars, miraculous medals, bibles, statues, icons, palm branches, holy cards, etc., because they help remind us God and his love, and they help open us up to receive God’s grace into our lives.

But what do we do when a religious item gets broken, or ripped, or worn out, or faded, or you just have too many and need to purge the house a bit?  Is it okay to throw religious articles away?

The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.  In short, if the item has been blessed by a priest or deacon, then it is considered a holy object and must be disposed of accordingly.  A blessing sets something aside as dedicated to the worship of God, and therefore blessed objects should not be simply discarded in the trash.  The proper way to dispose of blessed objects is to burn them or burry them.  Even a simple bonfire in the backyard is an acceptable way to respectfully dispose of blessed items.

If an item has not been blessed, then it is not a sacred object, and can be thrown away.  Thus, even if you have an image or statue of Jesus or a saint, if it is not blessed, it can simply be thrown away.  This includes religious articles you may receive from charities in the mail.

The exception to that perhaps would be bibles.  I would recommend always properly disposing of an old bible and not simply throwing it away, since every bible contains the word of God.

If you’re ever unsure of what to do with certain religious articles you no longer want or need, you are always welcome to bring them to church and ask me about them.  I am also happy to collect old blessed items and properly dispose of them for you.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke


August 20, 2017 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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August 20, 2017

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time


“O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”


The Rosary

We just celebrated the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary this past week, so it is a good time to reflect on the importance of Marian devotion.

The prayers of the rosary are largely straight out of the scriptures.  The Our Father was taught by Christ himself.  The Hail Mary is a combination of the words of the Angel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth greeting Mary (Luke 1:28, 42), followed by a plea for her prayers for us.  The Glory Be is simply a prayer of praise and glory to God as a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, and her constant request was to pray the rosary.  Perhaps you grew up praying the rosary as a family.  I did.  My family went through phases when we would pray the rosary every day, or only occasionally, but it was always a part of our life.  We also would include the rosary on road trips, by always beginning our time in the car with this prayer.  Having formed that habit as a child, I continue it today—not only praying the rosary in the car, but I made a resolution in high school to pray the rosary every day, and I have never intentionally failed to say the rosary every day for the past 15 years.  I know that devotion to Our Lady is a huge reason why my faith is so strong today.

If praying the rosary as a family is not a regular part of your family’s routine, I encourage you to begin.  Here is a powerful story that helps illustrate the power of the rosary and Mary’s guidance in our lives and that of children.

Fr. Hugh Thwaites, S.J. writes: “I remember someone telling me of a friend of his, a great Catholic, the pillar of the parish, whose children had all lapsed, one after the other. They had all fallen away from the sacraments and from attending Mass. So I said to him, ‘I wouldn’t mind betting that your friend had been brought up to recite the family rosary when he was a boy, and that his children haven’t.’ The next time I saw him, he said that this was indeed true. His friend had recited the family rosary at home when he was a boy, and when he had got married and started his own family they all said the rosary. But then, one evening when they were about to start the rosary, one of the children switched on the television, and that was that. The custom of the family rosary was dropped, and in due course, they gave up the practice of the faith.” ( )

We’ll talk more about technology use, like the TV, another time, but for now it’s enough to say that if we have time to watch TV, we also have time to pray the rosary.

I encourage all families, especially we who attend the parish dedicated to Our Lady, to pray the rosary every day.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke