Archdiocese to begin construction on Holy Trinity Center

Multi-use facility solves space woes, built for next 100 years

With the same spirit of hospitality Abraham and Sarah gave three travelers in the Bible, the Archdiocese of Denver will build a new center that will assist the archbishop in carrying out his apostolate and that will provide a space for him to gather together with the faithful of northern Colorado.

This month, the archdiocese commenced work on a $6.5 million project to build the Holy Trinity Center on the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization campus in Denver. The center is funded exclusively by private donors—separate from A New Harvest campaign and the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal—and the archdiocese. Likewise, no parish funds are being used to fund this project.

The project grew out of a committee established in early 2013 by Archbishop Samuel Aquila to evaluate the current and future needs of the John Paul II Center campus, which includes the offices of the chancery, the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary, the Spirituality Year house for first-year seminarians, the Cardinal Stafford Library, the convent of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich., and the archbishop’s residence.

The committee sought to focus on projects that would benefit the archdiocese for the next 100 years. It was found that the campus lacked a multi-use facility that didn’t interfere with the needs of the growing seminaries, take away from already limited classroom space, or disturb seminary life with public events.

The Holy Trinity Center was then conceived to solve space woes on the campus by combining the archbishop’s current residence with rooms for communal living and large-scale meetings, conferences, dinners and other functions. The project includes new infrastructure for the John Paul II Center with a new fire hydrant, fire lanes, parking, and improvements to the drainage of the property.

Prior to moving forward, Archbishop Aquila consulted members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council, the College of Consultors and the Presbyterate Council as to the financial and pastoral considerations and requirements for the project.

Adam Hermanson, principal and owner of the Henderson-based Integration Design Group, said the center is designed to fulfill Archbishop Aquila’s primary work to serve the Church. Integration Design Group has and will continue to provide architectural design and oversight services for the Holy Trinity Center while Haselden Construction will serve as the general contractor.

He said the project will provide for additional meeting space on campus, as well as a place for the archbishop to welcome groups and host activities. Hermanson added that the building will be an asset to the archdiocese for years to come.

Community living

The current ranch home on the north side of the campus—with 3,196 square feet of living space—will undergo needed plumbing and insulation repairs and remodeling, and it will be updated to make it ADA compliant to enable a retired bishop or retired priest confessor for the seminary to live there in the future.

In February, construction will begin on the 13,500-square-foot addition that will feature a meeting room with a separate entrance, reception space for up to 150 guests on the main level, including a kitchen, library, chapel and terrace. The lower level will include storage space, as well as electrical and mechanical rooms.

The upper level, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of the total cost, will include an apartment for the archbishop, as well as two other apartments for priests, and two guest rooms for visitors to the seminary and archdiocese.

“Priests desire to live in community and it is part of what they need to serve well,” said Hermanson, who designed architecture for Holy Trinity Parish in Westminster and the St. Thomas Aquinas Center in Boulder.

The architectural plans reveal a design symbolizing the Holy Trinity.

“This motif of Trinity logic appears in all the center details,” Hermanson said.

Three arches above the main center entrance facing southward reflect the Trinity. The windows and doors to the chapel also have a three-part scheme, he said. The aesthetics will also echo other buildings on campus made with brick and red tiled roofs, he said.

Construction is anticipated to finish by early 2015.

“A lot of care was taken to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the archdiocese. The archbishop has been involved and careful in putting together the right vision,” Hermanson said, noting that the facility will serve the campus and archdiocese for several decades. “It’s intended to be a center that is receptive and that will serve the faithful of northern Colorado.”

The archbishop will welcome clergy, seminarians, young adults, consultative bodies and people from all parts of the archdiocese to the Holy Trinity Center throughout the year.

“I look forward to the Holy Trinity Center opening,” said Archbishop Aquila, “because it will enhance my ability to carry out my pastoral ministry to the faithful of northern Colorado.”

COMING UP: Father and son, deacon and priest: Deacon dads and priest sons share special bond as both serve God’s people

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The bond between a father and son is one of God’s greatest designs; however, when father and son are both called to serve the Church as deacon and priest, that bond takes on a whole new meaning. Just ask these two dads and their sons, all of whom answered the call to serve the people of God at the altar.

Deacon Michael Magee serves at Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Foxfield, while his son Father Matthew Magee has worked as the priest secretary to Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila for the past several years and will soon be moved to a new assignment as parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Boulder. Deacon Darrell Nepil serves at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Denver, and his son, Father John Nepil, served at several parishes within the archdiocese before his current assignment as a professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.

However different their journeys may have been, all four have something in common; mainly, that far from seeing their vocations as a reward from God, they have received them as an uncommon gift of grace that has blessed their families and individual relationships with each other abundantly, knowing that God acts in different ways to help us all get to Heaven.

Interwoven journeys

Deacon Michael Magee was ordained in May 2009, at the end of Father Matt’s first year of seminary. Little did they know that God would use both of their callings to encourage each other along the journey.

Deacon Michael’s journey began when a man from his parish was ordained a deacon.

“I simply felt like God was calling me to do something more than I was doing at the present time,” he said. “I had been volunteering for a number of different things and was involved in some ministry activities and in the Knights of Columbus. And I thought the idea of being a deacon would be simply another activity for which I could volunteer.”

He didn’t know what it entailed at the time. In fact, he believed it was something a man could simply sign up for. To his surprise, the diaconate was more serious – and it required five years of formation and discernment. Yet he was so drawn to it, that he decided to do it anyway. But as he learned more about the nature of the diaconate during his formation, he became more nervous and unsure about whether God was really calling him to that vocation. 

While his doubts remained all the way up to his ordination, Deacon Michael was faithful to his studies, trusting that God would lead him in the right path. 

And God did — through the calling of his own son to the priesthood.

Deacon Michael didn’t realize that his son Matthew had paid close attention to his father’s faith journey and had found in it a light that gave him courage to discern the priesthood.

Father Matthew Magee (left) and his dad, Deacon Michael Magee (right), were both encouraging to one another as they each pursued their respective vocations. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

“Seeing my dad, as a father, growing in his relationship with the Lord was really influential for me on my own desire to follow Christ,” said Father Matt. “Looking at his courage to discern his own vocation and follow God’s plan in his life gave me the strength and courage to be open to the same thing in my life… He played a very important role, whether he knew it or not at the time, and whether I knew it or not at the time.”

On the other hand, Father Matt didn’t know that his dad was in turn encouraged by his own response to God’s calling. 

“As I went through all those doubts, I watched Matthew’s journey in seminary and listened to how he was dealing with that in his life. And, as he just articulated very well, I also saw those same qualities in him,” Deacon Michael said. “Seeing a young man in his 20s willing to consider following God for the rest of his life also gave me the courage to continue on in my own journey, to see it through.”

God’s way of uplifting them in their vocations through each other’s journey is something they are very grateful for. 

This unusual grace impacted Father Matt during his first Mass, when his dad, as deacon, approached him before the Gospel reading and asked for the traditional blessing by calling him “father.”

“It was a really special moment for me. He’s certainly my biological father and raised me. But then there’s something different when we’re at the altar in a clerical capacity — there’s a strange reversal of roles when we’re giving spiritual nourishment to the people — a father asks the new father for the blessing,” he said.

In both of their vocations, Deacon Michael and Father Matt see God’s Providence and the unique plan he has for all of us.

“We all have a vocation, even if it’s something we may not expect,” Deacon Michael concluded. “You may feel anxiety or worry about what it’s going to look like, but trust in God. He will take care of things as he always does.”

A bribe for Heaven

For Deacon Darell and Father John Nepil, the journey was different, but not any less providential.

While he grew up Catholic, Father John wasn’t interested in setting foot on any Church activity during his teenage years. His saving grace was perhaps what many parents have to do to get their teenagers to Church: bribe them.

“His mom and I basically bribed him to go to the Steubenville of the Rockies Conference,” Deacon Darell said with a laugh. “He didn’t want to go, but we’d heard so many good things about it, that we said, ‘We’re going to make this happen, whatever it takes.’”

So the Nepils came up with a creative idea.

“He owed me some money for a uniform that he had needed for a job in the summer. So, I said, ‘Listen, if you go to the Steubenville of the Rockies Conference, I’ll forgive your debt. And he did, he and his brother went. And John especially came back a different boy. He literally was converted with a lightning bolt at that retreat.”

To this day, Father John marks his conversion to Christ from the summer before his senior year in high school when he attended that conference. 

As it happens with stories worth telling, the details of how much money he owed his father have varied over the years, and it’s a matter of debate among them, but Father John remembers it was close to $500.

“That’s subject to each one,” Father John said laughingly. “But what matters is that they offered to forgive my debt if I went to this retreat – it was money well spent.”

Besides this important event, Father John said that his dad influenced him in many ways by the simple fact of who he was as a father.

“My dad’s faith and moral character were a rock for me during some difficult teenage years,” he said. “He’s a great example of a man who was always faithful and lived a really outstanding moral life, but then as he deepened in love with Christ, he decided to give of himself in a more profound service.”

Father John Nepil (left) and Deacon Darrell Nepil (right) both had rather roundabout ways to their respective vocations, but they both say serving God’s people together as brothers in Holy Orders is a great joy. (Photo provided)

Besides his desire to serve and follow God, the seed that would eventually lead Deacon Darell to the diaconate was planted by a coworker, who would also take holy orders: Deacon Joe Donohoe.

“One day he said to me, ‘You should be a deacon.’ And, of course, I laughed at him and said, ‘I don’t have time for that. My life is too busy.’ But it only took him to suggest it for the idea to keep coming back to my head, and God kept nudging me. Eventually I decided I really wanted to do that,” Deacon Darell said.

The ability to share at the altar during the Mass has deepened the natural relationship of father and son and given Deacon Darell and Father John new opportunities to grow closer to God. 

One of the most meaningful times came when Deacon Darell had a massive stroke in 2018. While he was in the hospital, Father John was able to visit and celebrate Mass at his bed and pray the rosary with him every day, as he had come back from Rome and was working on his dissertation.

“It was probably the most privileged and intimate time I’ve ever had with my father,” Father John said. “It was an amazing gift that really changed our relationship.”

“I feel like that’s a huge reason why I healed and why I am here today,” Deacon Darell added.

“It’s a real gift to have my dad as a deacon and a brother. It’s a tremendous honor. It’s one of the great joys of my life.” Father John concluded. “That’s really what has bonded our relationship together: the sheer desire to serve Jesus, especially in holy orders.”