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‘A free heart to be like Christ’

Three Archdiocese of Denver seminarians, ordained as deacons on March 1 as part of their journey to the priesthood, said society’s view of celibacy as a burden is far from the truth.

“Celibacy is a gift,” said Deacon Gregory Lesher, 29. “It is not the cost I pay to be a priest. It means saving the most intimate part of my heart for God alone and turning to him primarily for all of my needs.”

Fellow seminarian Deacon Joseph McLagan, 28, calls celibacy an important foundation of the priesthood.

“Many people I encounter have no clue as to what celibacy is or its gifts,” said Deacon McLagan, a 2004 graduate of Highlands Ranch High School. “So, I have reconciled this by not standing on the sands of this culture, which will waver and move in the storms that may come, but on a firm foundation rooted from the Lord through the many gifts he has given me in seminary.”

Deacon Franklin Treminio, a 33-year-old native of Nicaragua, is ready to give his whole life to God and is looking forward to being a deacon and eventually a priest.

“The way I’ve reconciled priestly celibacy is to live my life different from that of a married man so that I can fully give myself to Christ and, consequently, to the service of others,” Deacon Treminio said. “Contradiction from our society will always be there against celibacy, but we Catholics must be ready and have a firm attitude to defend it against the new currents of society that disregard priestly celibacy.”

Archbishop Samuel Aquila ordained the men to the diaconate during an ordination Mass March 1, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Mass concelebrants included Father Scott Traynor, rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, and Father Tobias Rodriguez-Lasa, rector of Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary

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The seminarians will serve as deacons for a year while continuing to study for the priesthood. They will assist parish priests with baptisms, weddings, wakes and funerals, preach and distribute holy Communion. The archbishop also encouraged them to work with the poor and marginalized in society.

The ordination rite included the men accepting the vow of celibacy, which Archbishop Aquila said forms a special friendship and intimacy with Jesus.

“You have a free heart to serve wherever you are called; a free heart to be like Christ,” Archbishop Aquila said.

The seminarians may face temptation and fear during their continued journey to the priesthood, the archbishop said. He urged them to turn to Christ and not let fear overtake them.

“Remember the words of John: ‘Perfect love casts out all fear,’” Archbishop Aquila said.

The men study together at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in south Denver where Deacons Lesher and McLagan are seminarians. Deacon Treminio attends Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary on the same campus, which also emphasizes missionary work under the direction of Archbishop Aquila.

During the ordination, the readings and songs were in English and Spanish to recognize the Spanish speaking seminarians at Redemptoris Mater, which includes seminarians from some 13 countries. The archbishop thanked the seminarians’ parents—including Deacon Treminio’s parents, Anastacio and Lidia, in Spanish—for raising their children in the Catholic faith and giving their sons to the Church. The couple from Nicaragua presented the gifts with fellow seminarian parents, Donald and Natlie Lesher, and Greg and Christie McLagan.

“In the way you formed them, you allowed their hearts to be open to the call,” the archbishop said to the parents.

Father Rodriguez-Lasa chanted the Gospel accompanied by a guitar player, and the choir from St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Schola provided music with cantor Marisa Walsh.

“Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the order of the diaconate,” Archbishop Aquila prayed.

He encouraged them to rely on the Holy Spirit for the “gift of fortitude” while they preach and teach.

Receiving God’s call
The three seminarians recently shared their first calling to the priesthood with the Denver Catholic Register.

Deacon Gregory Louis Lesher, 29, was born in Chicago and raised in Bolingbrook, Ill., a southwest suburb of the city. He first felt a call to the priesthood at about 12 but “ran away” from the vocation. He felt God spoke to him again while attending graduate school at the University of Denver. “I still stubbornly tried to run away for another two years but God gradually convinced me to apply to seminary in my second year of graduate school,” he said.

Deacon Joseph Marc McLagan, 28, was born in Kansas City, Mo., and reared in Grandview, Mo., and Littleton. A graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, he began questioning his identity while in college and got involved in ministry and Bible studies on campus. “With my questions receiving answers and my prayer life growing, I began to trust in the Lord,” he said.

Deacon Franklin Anastacio Sequeira Treminio, 33, was born in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, and grew up in Ciudad Dario, Nicaragua. Before he entered the seminary, Treminio worked part-time as a taxi driver for his grandfather in Ciudad Dario and was studying business administration in the Universidad de las Americas. He was 15 when he first heard God calling him to the priesthood. “One of the aspects that influenced my calling to the priesthood is the fact of having been raised in a Catholic family that introduced me at 13 to an itinerary of Christian formation, the Neocatechumental Way,” he said.

Roxanne King
Roxanne King
Roxanne King is the former editor of the Denver Catholic Register and a freelance writer in the Denver area.

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