Preach My Rosary

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, O.P., led the prayer and procession of the Most Holy Rosary through the Basilica at the Rosary Pilgrimage. Photos by George Goss

Preach My Rosary

By Blackfriars Staff

The Dominican Friars not only pray the Rosary, they preach the Rosary! The preaching of the Rosary was one of the many graces received by those present at the first national Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage held September 30 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. A perfect blend of prayer and preaching, the Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage served to ground, and undoubtedly deepen, the faithful’s understanding of Our Lady’s desire to bring souls to her son, Jesus.

Modeled after the Rosary Pilgrimage in Lourdes, this pilgrimage was born out of prayer and began to take shape in January 2023 with a 9-month novena which was prayed every month. Fr. John Paul Kern, O.P., Executive Director of the Dominican Friars Foundation, said that the “Dominican Friars have been promoting the Rosary for 800 years, and today there’s a great need for unity and for drawing us to Jesus through Mary. So, we took this opportunity at the beginning of the month of the Rosary to invite everyone in the United States to join us in prayer with Our Lady—she’s the one who prayed with the Apostles at Pentecost for the coming of the Holy Spirit—and so we’re gathered here with her and ask for her intercession for the graces that we need to draw close to Jesus today.”

Over 3,200 people from all over the country joined the friars for a day-long pilgrimage in DC, with talks by Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P.; a 15-decade Rosary with a procession; a fervorino by Promoter General of the Rosary Confraternity, Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.; and Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Paul Marich, O.P., and preached by Fr. James Brent, O.P.

Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P., principal preacher for the Rosary Pilgrimage, opened the day with the question, “Is Marian devotion an inordinate love?” He said objections to Marian devotion fall along the lines of loving too much, but that “Marian devotion isn’t overkill, it’s overflow. Our Lady doesn’t set herself up as an idol, so much as an icon. And she doesn’t upend the place of Christ in our life, she extends it, with motherly care.”

God is glorious in his saints, he said. “And if God is made glorious in his saints that is true above all of she who is most conformed to her Son. And we see in the life of Our Lady that even though she was given exalted graces, she disappears—becoming an icon for us to see the graces of Our Lord.”


Fr. James Brent, O.P., preached about Our Lady and the Apostles in the Upper Room at the Vigil Mass.


Fr. Gregory urged us to pray the Rosary with a contemplative stance. “We’re all called to be contemplatives and the only prerequisite for this is the life of grace.” So, all baptized Christians have what it takes to contemplate the mysteries of God. And this contemplative stance gets at our deepest identity because we will only be fully ourselves when we get to heaven. But this life of contemplation can start here. “In fact”, he said, “some of the Fathers of the Church use this word ‘heaven dwellers’ to describe our time even while here on earth—that even as we make pilgrimage through the difficulties, the various trials and temptations of this life, that we remain throughout the course of it, heaven dwellers, because the life of grace is the life of glory.”

In praying the Rosary, he counseled us to go toward the mysteries because they put us in living contact with Christ. Christ actually comes for us, “taking on our humanity, from top to bottom … so that we might have assurance in his flesh that he is present. Christ wants us to lay hold of him. He wants us to beg for him because he wants to give himself through his mysteries.”

Finally, Fr. Gregory directed us to pray in union with Mary, our heavenly mother. Recounting a story about his own mother beside him as a 19-year-old in the hospital undergoing wound care from frostbite, his body wracked with pain, he could see the anguish in his mother’s face because of his suffering. In one way, seeing her suffer deepened Fr. Gregory’s anguish. But, somewhat paradoxically, it lightened his anguish because he wasn’t alone. “It was almost as if my mom had increased my capacity to both feel the pain and to feel the love,” he said. Shifting our attention back to Our Lady, standing at the foot of the cross, he said “think of the pain and suffering she witnessed—a pain made more acute by the union and sympathy which she enjoyed with her beloved son. And yet she was able to bear it up, all within the setting of the divine plan—which knows, which believes, which hopes, which loves—the fact that glory lies in store, that the unleashing of salvation lies in store, that depth of intimacy lies in store, that perfection of sympathy lies in store, for all those who would turn to him, who would profit from the offer of grace.”

The Most Holy Rosary was a focal point of the day as Fr. Patrick Briscoe, O.P., led friars in procession to different chapels in the Basilica, praying 15 decades of the Rosary with thousands of the faithful and chanting the newly composed Dominican Rosary Litany, ending with the Salve Regina chanted by 80 Dominican friars in the nave of Our Lady’s Basilica—a visually moving experience.

In his homily at the Vigil Mass, Fr. James Brent, O.P., lifted hearts and minds to the Upper Room and asked, “Why have so many come so far to Our Lady’s Basilica in Washington, DC? Isn’t it because we, too, know our need to join with Mary in prayer? The Rosary is our link to the Upper Room,” he said. “Surely, the historical moment of the Upper Room has long since come and gone, but the mystery of the Upper Room still abides in the heavenly places.”

And pilgrims traveled from near and far! Kyle Myers, a graduate student at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles who met the Dominicans through the Thomistic Institute, said he felt called by God to come to the pilgrimage, so he got in his car and drove for five days. “I think the fulfillment of the pilgrimage is supposed to be a symbol of your life as a Christian—this journey ultimately to this church dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. So, when I arrived here, I felt I had completed some sort of penitential task. And I felt so relieved to get here. Spiritually, I spent a lot of time praying for the friars who were going to be here.”

Another pilgrim, Glenn Dupont, walked from Providence, RI to the Basilica in DC—a 600 mile trek—and he estimated he walked over 400 miles of the journey! Glenn, a lay Dominican, said it’s been on his heart for a long time to promote the Rosary, particularly the Rosary Confraternity, so, as he sees it, this Rosary Pilgrimage is just the beginning and he’s looking forward to promoting the Rosary back at his home parish, (aptly named) St. Pius V.


Fr. Michael O’Connor, O.P. and the Dominican Schola Cantorum led the faithful in chanting the Dominican Rosary Litany and in singing at the Vigil Mass.


Francesca Cuddeback, also from Rhode Island, traveled with her husband Matthew and their three children. As a family they are devoted to praying the Rosary every day, and it’s been such a gift to their family, she said. “For those who haven’t experienced what it means to really be faithful to the Rosary every day, I hope they receive that grace on this pilgrimage. We’re praying for that today. I know that it has given our family so many gifts of joy and peace in
our home.”

Concluding the pilgrimage by reciting the Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage novena prayer, Fr. Allen Moran, O.P., Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, thanked the thousands of pilgrims who joined the friars in kicking off the month of the Rosary, and announced next year’s Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage date: September 28, 2024. More information is available on the Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage website:

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