I am Mark de Vries, a 35-year-old lay Catholic from the Netherlands. I have been Catholic (and a Christian) since my baptism at the start of Easter of 2007, so experience and a lifelong education in the faith are not things I can fall back on. As a consequence I write as an interested layman with no basis in anything else than my short life as a Catholic.

However, I do have the pleasure of living in an orthodox parish with a large group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable faithful of all ages. There my faith has been nurtured and I have been able to explore my vocation in life; not to the priesthood, it now seems, but in marriage and fatherhood (and, Lord knows, the permanent diaconate?).

In the past, I have studied English language and culture at the University of Groningen, which is part of the reason why this blog is in English (the other reason is that I want to try and reach as many people as possible). I also do some freelance and voluntary translation work for Catholic websites and retreats and contribute a weekly column to Dutch Radio Maria.

If I had to identify an ‘angle’ from which I write, so to speak, I’d say it was as a Catholic loyal to the Church, most directly personified in my bishop, Msgr. Gerard de Korte, and my parish priest, Father Rolf Wagenaar, and ultimately in the Holy Father, Pope Francis. As such I will endeavour to be critical if necessary, but always loyal to their authority, vested in them through the holy sacrament of ordination

Since the Church does not only exist on Earth, but also in Heaven, I place this blog under the protection of all the saints who pray for us ceaselessly, especially Holy Mary, Mother of Sorrows; Saint Joseph; Saint Benedict Joseph Labre; Saint Philip Neri; Saint John Mary Vianney, the Curé d’Ars; Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman; and Venerable Pope Pius XII.

With this blog I hope to be able to offer an interesting read about the Catholic Church in the Netherlands and all things related, and whatever other interesting things that inspire me.