Diaper collection to impact bottom line

This is the third story in a Denver Catholic Register series about archdiocesan ministries and programs funded by the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.

Running an average of $72 a month, or $864 a year, diapers can be one of the largest ongoing expenses for a baby.

“Without a doubt, it’s the biggest expense (for many families),” explained Mark Hahn, volunteer and parish relations coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver. “It’s estimated that one in three families struggle to buy diapers; and there are times when parents are forced to choose between buying diapers and buying food.”

To address the issue and help ease stressed family budgets, Catholic Charities is launching a statewide diaper bank to make disposable diapers available, at no cost, to families with young children, as well as adult diapers available to senior citizens.

“There’s such a need,” said Nhung Nielson, chair of the diaper bank committee and a parishioner of Light of the World Church in Littleton. “There are a lot of food banks (but) a diaper bank is unique … it’s a forgotten need for struggling families.”

A study last year found that one in 12 low-income mothers stretch their diaper supply by leaving children in them after they’ve been soiled, which can lead to skin and urinary tract infections. On average infants require up to 12 diapers a day, and toddlers about eight. The study also showed cases of parents reusing disposable diapers (Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, August 2013).

“Obviously reusing diapers can cause health problems, and make children very upset with horrible diaper rash and other problems,” Hahn said. “This can lead to neglect and abuse.”

For children attending day care, most child care centers require parents to bring a supply of diapers. The inability to provide them can impact a parent’s ability to work or go to school. Government assistance programs such as food stamps or the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) do not cover diapers.

“It’s just so sad,” Nielson said. “Some single moms are embarrassed to ask, they’re embarrassed to admit they can’t afford diapers, they’re embarrassed to admit they’re reusing diapers.”

Maintaining the dignity of those in need is a priority for the volunteer-run bank that already has a small inventory in place at their storage space at St. Rose of Lima Church in Denver. The committee hopes through diaper drives at parishes and schools, as well as corporate sponsorships and donations, to build the inventory to hundreds of thousands.

“We plan for this to be a huge endeavor,” said Nielson.

Diapers will be provided to all Catholic Charities’ ministries that serve pregnant women and new mothers and their families including Respect Life Resources, five locations of Gabriel House, five homeless shelters including Greeley and Fort Collins, six child development centers, the kinship ministry that assists families raising the children of other relatives, foster care and adult senior services. They will also be available to parishes and their surrounding communities.

“It’s not only for Catholics,” said Nielson, “but all members of the community.”

The committee is in the process of formalizing the ministry’s name and logo, and preparing an announcement to be distributed at parishes. For more information, contact Hahn at 720-377-1371 or mhahn@ccdenver.org.


ASCENSION PHOTO_WebHow Catholic Charities can help more people reach salvation

There’s no telling what the Church can do when she sets her mind to it, according to Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver.

Last year Catholic Charities, the charitable arm of the Church in northern Colorado, extended the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to more than 50,000 poor and otherwise in-need individuals. They plan to build on that foundation and serve even more going forward.

“The goal is to get Catholic Charities more actively engaged with the parishes,” explained Smith. “This will go a long way toward helping those in need, both parishioners and non-parishioners.”

Efforts aim to make it clear and simple for Catholics to find ways to get involved in Charities’ work, such as volunteering and donating to ministries such as food banks, clothing and coat drives, and diaper collections.

“It’s easy to remember that there are those with a need to receive,” Smith said. “Often the need to give is greater. We want to give those who may not know how, the opportunity to give.

“By helping people give, we help them reach salvation.”

For fiscal year 2012-2013 combined operations of Catholic Charities brought in nearly $33.8 million in revenue and income from all sources, including the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.

“The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal provides us with funding for Respect Life Resources, Gabriel House, Lighthouse Women’s Center, and all of our shelters,” Smith said. “The appeal goes to great lengths to support services in northern Colorado, including those beyond the Denver metro area.”

Charities’ Denver shelters include Samaritan House for men, women and families, Father Ed Judy House for women and children, and St. Joseph’s Home for Veterans. Shelters outside the metro area are the Guadalupe Community Shelter in Greeley and The Mission in Fort Collins.

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Denver
4045 Pecos St., Denver
Phone: 303-742-0828

Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal
Through the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, nearly 40 archdiocesan ministries are supported by donations to the annual campaign. Donations fund ministries created to catechize students, educate seminarians, provide food and shelter to the impoverished, lead the wayward back to the Church and communicate the Gospel message. Archbishop Samuel Aquila chose this year’s theme “Go, therefore, and make disciples” (Matt 28:19) to encourage the faithful to re-evaluate their roles in making disciples. Everyone can be disciples for Christ, he said, either directly or indirectly. Gifts to the appeal are one way the faithful can help make disciples for Christ.

To make a donation
Online: www.archden.org/donate
Mail: 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210
Phone: 303-715-3111

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.”