Meet the Archdiocese of Denver’s newest priests 

Denver Catholic Staff

Even in 2020, men are still courageously answering the call to become priests. On May 16, five men were ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Denver, and while the ceremony looked a lot different than other years due to the pandemic, it was still a joyous occasion. Get to know our newest priests and where their first assignments will be. 

Father Chris Marbury
Further Studies; Will reside at Good ShepherdDenver 

When Chris Marbury was a little kid, he told his parents that when he grew up, he wanted to figure out a way to make people live forever. In college, he studied biochemistry and molecular biology in pursuit of this dream.  

But the Lord had different plans for how Marbury could achieve this, and on May 16, he was ordained a priest. 

“In college, I had a profound experience in Mass watching the priest elevate the Eucharist. And it was an epiphany moment [for me],” Marbury told the Denver Catholic. “This is what I’ve been searching for my entire life. Jesus is the way to eternal life, and he even tells us, ‘he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life.’ Even this crazy desire that I had as a little kid, it could be fulfilled through this vocation.” 

Marbury grew up in Castle Rock with a younger sister and his parents. His parent converted to Catholicism a couple of years before Marbury was born. “Faith was always an important part of our family life, Marbury said. 

While attending college at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Marbury, like many young people when they go off to college, wrestled with his faith and “went back and forth” between whether he still held the same beliefs he grew up with. 

However, early on, he connected with St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Boulder, taking part in a bible study and participating in the Buffalo Awakening retreat, which he said was a big turning point for him. 

“That was really just a moment of receiving a great outpouring of God’s love and mercy,” Marbury said. “I remember at the end of that retreat, we received a packet of letters that they had gotten from our family and friends. And I remember being completely overwhelmed with love from my family and friends.  And in that moment, I really experienced God’s personal love for me, too. And that set me on fire.” 

Marbury graduated from CU-Boulder in 2012 and entered St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in 2013. He began his studies in Colorado, but for the past several years, Marbury has been studying in Rome, where his perspective of the greater Church has expanded greatly, and he’s been able to experience the universality of it. 

“I’ve had classes with seminarians and religious and even laypeople from pretty much every continent,” he said. “Even at the North American College, [there are] seminarians from every corner of the U.S.” 

Despite being ordained in a nearly-empty cathedral due to coronavirus, with only his parents and sister in the pews to support him, Marbury finds solace in the example of figures like St. John Paul II, who has been an inspiration in his life, and also that of the apostles. 

“I’ve really taken consolation realizing that John Paul II was ordained in secret with only a few other people present,” Marbury said. “Also, [I’ve been] reflecting on the apostles and their initial commission from Jesus and being ordained [as a] small community.” 

In the end, even though the circumstances of his ordination were not quite what he expected, Marbury is confident of the good God will bring out of it. 

“God always has a plan and he always surprises us and gives us much more than we ever expected,” he said. “Even though this is a difficult time with a lot of uncertainty, looking back at my life and all of the graces and blessings that I’ve had, even from times of difficulty, God is always faithful. Even when things don’t look the way that I expect, he always continues to show up and seems to always make something even greater out of the difficulties of my life than I ever expected.” 

Father Chris Considine
Parochial Vicar; Assigned to St. Joan of Arc, Arvada 

The men ordained priests this year were ordained in a virtually empty cathedral, with no celebration to follow as it normally would. However, for Chris Considine, none of that matters much. After all, he’s a priest now. 

“As I see it, I’m going to be a priest forever. Like, forever,” Considine told the Denver Catholic. “Everything else is just icing on the cake and it doesn’t really bother me that much.” 

Considine was born in Seattle, then moved to Plano, Texas before his family at last settled in Colorado. He attended University of Colorado Boulder for two years before discerning a call to the priesthood. While on a retreat with St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Boulder, he heard the call. 

“I just heard the Lord like directly call me: ‘Hey, I think you might be a priest,’” Considine recalled. “And then I spent the next three or four months thinking if this is something that would actually make me happy. And then I realized that it was.” 

Considine stayed plugged into the community at St. Thomas Aquinas, which is where he said he grew in his faith enough to be free to make the decision to enter seminary. 

“I’ve been in the seminary now for nine years, a third of my life,” he said with a laugh. 

Along the way, Considine had some crucial figures who have walked alongside him in his vocation and helped to form him into the priest he has now become. Two men, Monsignor Michael Glenn and Father Raymond Gawronski, both of whom passed away within the last few years, were key formators of Considine and “huge pillars in the early part of my vocation,” he said. 

“Then later on, my other spiritual director, Father Dan Barron, walked with me for me for eight years,” Considine added, “and he probably knows me better anyone else in the whole world.” 

There were also a few saints who helped him along the way: St. Agnes, Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Polycarp, whose feast was the date by which he asked the Lord in college to tell him whether or not he was supposed to be a priest. 

Considine’s mother passed away a few years ago, but his father was at the ordination, “right in the front row if he’s allowed,” he said with a laugh. As he begins his life as a new priest, Considine said he is most looking forward to sitting in the confessional and helping to facilitate bringing people back to the mercy of the Lord. 

“God desires so badly to pour his mercy upon the world … [and] I get to be a part of that,” he said. “I get to be a part of bringing dead souls back to life. I’m going to be able to absolve sins. I can celebrate mass. I’m going be a priest of God. I’m just happy to be a priest.” 

Father Christian James Mast
Parochial Vicar; Assigned to Our Lady of the Valley, Windsor 

It was going down a mountain as a student at Colorado State University that Father Christian James Mast told God for the first time in his life: “If you’re calling me to the priesthood, I’m all in.” 

What makes his story so unique, however, is that he wasn’t going down the mountain by himself – a priest was carrying him in his back. He had suffered an accident in the midst of a dangerous storm and was unable to walk. 

“As we were trying to get down, a large rock that was around four feet tall was dislodged,” said Father Mast. “It jumped over my back, landed on my leg, crushed it then continued to roll down the mountain.” 

Father John Nepil approached him and asked him, “Do you trust me?” 

After Father Mast replied that yes, he did trust him, Father Nepil asked him again more fervently, “No, do you really trust me?” 

Father Nepil carried him for hours down the mountain, and the then university student began discerning the priesthood. 

The Loveland native now reflects on all the years of formation at the seminary and is deeply grateful for them. One visible fruit is that they have helped him interpret situations like the current pandemic under a different light. 

“The whole coronavirus has put a mark on what our priesthood will look like – in a way there’s a lot of Providence,” he said. “One of the questions we’re often asked is, ‘Are you ready?’… [But] there’s only one perfect priest and we enter into his priesthood. So, the mixed feeling of ‘I’m not ready’ is probably not a bad place to be. God will provide, he always shows up. Right after ordination, he’s always there ready to work with you. 

“One thing about fruitful priests is that you can’t have self-reliance, and that’s brought a lot of peace.” 

Other than looking forward to celebrating the Mass and the sacrament of confession, Father Mast is excited about living the parish life, looking back at his great experience at St. Thomas More Parish, where he served as deacon. 

“There were times during the week when I still had schoolwork, but I wanted to remain at the parish, I love that life and I love being with the people,” he said. 

He also didn’t deny that the sacrament of Reconciliation makes him a little nervous, although he doesn’t consider that to be a bad thing. 

“I think it’s a just cause because you’re acting in persona Christi; it’s a very big thing. It’s a sacrament that requires a lot of prudence and you can’t really practice for [it],” he said. 

Nonetheless, it gives him peace to think that the sacrament is something God delegates to the priest. 

“The reality is that God will provide graces that are unknown to us. There’s a good holy fear.”  

Father Juan Adrian Hernandez Dominguez
Parochial Vicar; St. Thomas Aquinas, Boulder 

Father Adrian Hernandez heard God’s call to become a missionary priest as a young seminarian, an adventure that eventually brought him to Denver from his native Texcoco, Mex. And this decision has led him on a journey of increasing trust in God’s will and Providence. An example of this is precisely the current pandemic, which prevented his parents from attending his priestly ordination. 

“When I was told my parents wouldn’t be able to come, I felt very sad,” Father Hernandez said. “But 10 years of seminarian formation certainly help you discern what’s from God and what’s not.” 

One of the moments that helped him see this situation under God’s light occurred during the Easter Vigil. 

“While I was serving as deacon during the Easter Vigil, I saw the Paschal candle in a dark and empty church and started reflecting about how Christ is the only light that can guide us in this moment of darkness. And just as the lonely flame gave light to that Church, I also found a light in the darkness. 

“What I found was the joy that comes from the Gospel, that joy we have proclaimed for over 2,000 years, the same joy that Christ gave to his disciples and that we can still receive amidst today’s problems. It’s precisely in the darkness that Christ’s light shines the brightest, and that’s what I saw.” 

Father Hernandez’s missionary vocation was planted the day an elderly woman asked him if he’d ever thought about becoming a priest when he was a kid. And while he “rebelled” against God during his teenage years, the long-hidden desire resurfaced when he was a high school student, thanks to a devout girlfriend he had at the time. 

As a priest, he looks forward to becoming an authentic spiritual father. 

“Now, by the grace of God, people will call me ‘father’. What a great honor and responsibility!” he said. “It’s important for people to see in a priest a friend and a brother, but most importantly a spiritual father who joins them in their joys and sufferings, who is near. It’s a great mystery that a priest, being human, can act in the person of Christ, especially in the Eucharist. 

“Something that always caught my attention, even as a kid, was how loving God is to choose a sinner among sinners to act on his behalf, in his person.” 

As he begins this new adventure, he hopes to hold nothing back from God and give of himself entirely. 

“I only hope to surrender and give everything of myself. That’s the prayer I’ve been repeating constantly: ‘Lord, please help me to give of myself completely to you and to your flock.” 

Father Juan Manuel Madrid
Parochial Vicar; Assigned to Holy Cross, Thornton and Frassati Catholic Academy as chaplain 

Juan Manuel Madrid was born and raised in Santiago de Chile. He grew up in a very active Catholic family, witnessing God’s action in his daily life and enhancing his Catholic faith from an early age.  

Although he had a great desire to become a priest since he was around five years old, everything changed in his teenage years when he entered a “rebellious” stage in his life. During this time, Madrid remembers rejecting the church, his family, and God while questioning the meaning of life. 

“For several years I asked myself this question: ‘Why do I exist if eventually I am going to die?’ I tried everything ‘the world’ had to offer me to be happy — fun, a good job, career, family, a girlfriend, etc.  but I was not happy. As a matter of fact, my life of sin brought me to a very strong depression,” he said. 

After experiencing a feeling of emptiness and even having suicidal thoughts, Madrid went back to God and begged him to help him find himself and his meaning of life. God did not take long to answer him and just a few days later, he heard a Mass reading that changed his life: 

The love of Christ urges us at the thought that if one man has died for all, then all men have died, and he died for all so that those who live may live no longer for themselves but for him who died and was raised to life for them (2 Cor 5: 14-15). 

“I realized that I was dead inside, because until that moment, I only lived for myself, when all I needed to be complete was the love of Christ. Thus, I decided to stay close to my Neocatechumenal Way community, where they showed me the love of Christ and where I discovered my vocation, not for myself, but for Christ, who died for me,” he said to the Denver Catholic 

He then entered Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Chile and was sent to Denver as a missionary. After almost 11 years of formation, in which he has learned to value community deeply, he is very joyful to take this important next step. 

“My journey towards priesthood has been an experience of discovering the tremendous love, mercy, and patience of God,” he said. “There have been many moments of doubt, confusion, and weakness, but during all those moments, God has manifested himself very faithful and powerful. I couldn’t have done this alone. 

COMING UP: Church and state partner to carry out corporal works of mercy during pandemic and beyond

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In times of great need and crisis, we find strength in unity and collaboration, and amid the coronavirus pandemic, this truth remains within the Archdiocese of Denver.

For many years, the Archdiocese of Denver and local Colorado government officials have found ways to work together toward common goals and better serve the people of Colorado, which often includes carrying out corporal works of mercy such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. And through the COVID-19 pandemic, these partnerships continue to be a crucial part of Colorado’s and the Church’s response to those in need.

The City of Denver and the Archdiocese of Denver have a history of partnering to support people in need. During the pandemic, Mayor Michael B. Hancock and his administration have worked with the archdiocese to safeguard the homeless population and extend testing for COVID-19 to communities at higher risk of struggling with the virus.

“These types of true collaborative relationships really make the difference because you can call on your partners [and] you have established relationships that are built on trust and built on true engagement and true focus on a mutually agreed upon mission,” Mayor Hancock told the Denver Catholic. “Catholic Charities and the archdiocese have been just tremendous partners over the years with us.”

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver told the Denver Catholic that “the Catholic Church is motivated to care for the poor and needy by Christ’s commandment to love one another as he loved us.

“The coronavirus pandemic,” he added, “has highlighted this important work and underscored the essential role the Catholic Church plays in fostering a society that upholds the God-given dignity of every person.

“It has been a blessing to be able to work with the City of Denver over many years to serve these vulnerable populations.”

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and the Archdiocese of Denver have partnered with Mayor Michael Hancock and the City of Denver in the past to better serve people in need, and they’ve continued those collaborative efforts through the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Catholic Charities)

Recently, on July 10 and July 23, Mayor Hancock and the City of Denver hosted events in partnership with Ascension Catholic Parish in Montbello to provide testing for COVID-19 and a mobile food pantry to the local community.

“We have been looking for opportunities to be in the communities, to do the testing, to meet people where they are. And we recognize that Latinos and African-Americans in particular have been most vulnerable to this virus,” Mayor Hancock said. “We needed to really just make sure we took the opportunities for testing to those communities.”

Then, on Aug. 6, Ascension hosted another event in collaboration with the City of Denver where the mayor’s office gave away free backpacks with school supplies, healthy food baskets, baby products, feminine hygiene products and more.

“I am very thankful for Mayor Hancock’s collaboration to help the people of Montbello,” said Father Dan Norick, pastor of Ascension Parish. “I also thank God for the people in Montbello who are caring for each other in these difficult times. May Jesus be praised!”

Mayor Hancock said that hosting these events at Ascension Parish made sense because of the established relationship the City of Denver and the Archdiocese of Denver have developed over the years.

“When you’re looking for who you partner with during these opportunities, you turn to who’s most familiar with you and who you’ve had a trusting collaboration with,” he said. “And it just so happens the archdiocese and the parish there have been the ones that we’ve worked with over the years. So it was very natural. It’s a place where people are familiar and a place they trust.”

It’s not only during the pandemic that this partnership has been fruitful, though. A strong partnership between Samaritan House and the city has existed for quite some time, and this relationship has borne much fruit over the years. Samaritan House strives to be more than a just a homeless shelter, providing education, life skills classes and one-on-one support for its residents to empower them to break free from the cycle of poverty and support themselves independently.

In August 2017, the City of Denver and Catholic Charities of Denver cut the ribbon on the first all-women’s shelter in the city. Called Samaritan House Women’s Shelter, it follows Samaritan House’s established model of helping those experiencing hard times find a way out of poverty and ultimately, bring hope to their lives. Each night, it offers 225 beds for women who are in need of immediate shelter.

Back in April, Catholic Charities teamed up with the City of Denver and took the lead on an auxiliary women’s shelter set up at the Denver Coliseum. (Photo by Catholic Charities)

Back in April, in response to the pandemic and out of a need to maintain social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the City of Denver and Catholic Charities of Denver partnered to set up the Denver Coliseum as a 24/7 auxiliary emergency women’s shelter that’s that was able to accommodate up to 300 women. Catholic Charities staff took the lead at the shelter with full support from the City of Denver. The auxiliary shelter has since returned to the regular women’s shelter facility, but this collaboration between the city and Catholic Charities was crucial as cases of COVID-19 climbed in April.

“When the pandemic hit, Catholic Charities had to find a way to social distance the ladies in its Women’s Emergency Shelter,” said Mike Sinnett, Vice President of Shelters and Community Outreach. “We also had to provide them 24/7 care to honor the governor’s Stay-at-Home order and triage for the virus. Working with the City of Denver staff, we came together as a shelter community and obtained the use of the Denver Coliseum downtown. We were able to better provide social distancing, 24/7 shelter with three meals a day and other amenities, including showers and case management.

“We believe this effort with the city protected our most vulnerable community and helped prevent the spread of the virus. But more importantly, we made it safer for women experiencing homelessness during this pandemic.”

Featured image: Father Dan Norick hands out supplies during a community giveaway event hosted at Ascension Catholic Parish in Montbello in conjunction with the City of Denver. (Photo provided)