Nebraska Priest Delivers Opening Prayer Before the U.S. House of Representatives

Father Brett Jamrog’s prayer has been shared widely on social media, prompting discussions and bringing inspiration to many

Father Brett Jamrog offers the opening prayer June 28 in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building.
Father Brett Jamrog offers the opening prayer June 28 in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building. (photo: Rep. Mike Flood / YouTube Screenshot)

Father Brett Jamrog, a Catholic priest from Norfolk, Nebraska, served as a guest chaplain at the U.S. Capitol recently and offered the opening prayer before the U.S. House of Representatives. He wore a traditional black cassock and began by invoking the Holy Trinity: 

Father, you fashion man and woman in your own image and likeness so that we could know, love and serve you.
Today, we thank you and praise you for the opportunity to be here as men and women who represent our country. During this meeting we invoke your help, God, to guide our thoughts, words and actions, so that they are in accord with your providential plan.
Grant that all the men and women here inspired by the gift of faith will be attentive to the needs of all so that by sharing their grief and pain, they may constantly devote themselves to the service of all.
May all present here serve our country after the example of Christ, your Son, so that our country can stand as a living witness to truth and freedom, to peace and justice, that all people may be raised up to a new hope.

Representative Mike Flood from Nebraska hosted Father Jamrog during his visit to the Capitol. The two men became acquainted after Father Jamrog’s 2022 ordination when he was assigned to Flood’s home parish, Sacred Heart in Norfolk. After the prayer, Flood spoke a little about Father Jamrog and the important contributions he’s made to their community and parish:  

“Even at this early point in his ministry, he’s had a big impact on his community by providing sacraments to the lay faithful on a daily basis and teaching in our school,” Flood said. “Father’s presence here today reminds us of the foundational role that faith plays in forming leaders and guiding our country."

At a time with so many political tensions brewing, Father Jamrog’s prayer served as both a consolation and an inspiration to many. The clip has been shared widely on social media and has prompted many discussions, but not all the comments are positive — “Hey, isn’t this a violation of the Separation of Church and State?”

Many have been surprised to learn that the U.S. House of Representatives hosts guest chaplains regularly to offer the opening prayer at the start of each general session. The guest chaplain is invited by one of the congressmen and is typically a pastor or priest from their congressional district. The guest chaplains support the Office of Chaplaincy, which dates back to 1789 and is currently held by the first female House chaplain, Margaret Kibben.

As of 2022, all House chaplains have been Christian but are allowed to be members of any religion or faith group. Guest chaplains have represented many different religious groups, including Judaism and Islam

Watching videos of Father Jamrog and other faith leaders imploring God for his divine assistance in our government brings to mind Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letters to the Danbury Baptist Association where he expounded on the meaning of the First Amendment’s establishment clause on the separation of church and state. In these letters, Jefferson assured the Baptist leaders that the government would not choose one denomination over another as the state’s official religion. Essentially, he explained that this “wall between Church and State” is a wall that’s one-directional — it’s meant to keep the government out of the Church, but it’s not meant to keep Christian principals out of the government.

“May all present here serve our country after the example of Christ.” Amen.