Livestream: Three seminarians to be ordained deacons

As a step in their priesthood formation, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila will ordain three seminarians to the diaconate during a Mass set for 10 a.m. March 1 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Those to be ordained are: Gregory Louis Lesher, Joseph Marc McLagan and Franklin Anastacio Sequeira Treminio. Profiles of the men follow.  You can watch the Mass live online here:

Name: Gregory Louis LesherGregory Lesher

Birthdate: Sept. 13, 1984

Born and reared: Born in Chicago and raised in Bolingbrook, Ill. (southwest suburb of Chicago)

Seminary: St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver

Q: Describe your educational and professional background before entering formation.

A: Education: Earned a master’s degree in international development with a concentration in humanitarian assistance from the University of Denver in 2008. I did the 4-plus-1 program at DU which merged undergraduate and graduate school together, so I received both degrees simultaneously in 2008.

Professional background: Resident assistant at DU for two years in a freshmen residence hall.

Q: When did you first feel called to the priesthood?

A: God placed this longing to be a priest in my heart when I was 11 or 12.  But throughout high school and as an undergrad I very much ran away from my vocation.  As I was finishing undergrad studies and applying to graduate school God spoke to me again about the priesthood.  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.

Q: What is your favorite pastime?

A: Currently my favorite pastime is archery.  I have been shooting a little over a year now and this year I began competing.  In January I won the first Colorado state archery competition in the adult traditional class (only using a recurve bow with nothing else added like a sight).  I am also an avid biker and between my philosophy years I fulfilled my dream of biking coast to coast across the United States.

Q: In today’s world, a call to celibacy is seen as radical, if not impossible. How have you reconciled the priesthood’s call to celibacy with this challenging cultural perspective?

A: Celibacy is a gift.  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.  God has shown me numerous times that I can rely on him to give me what I need.  God is calling me to holy orders and so I have no concerns about this life being impossible.

Q: How do you feel about this step in your priesthood formation of being ordained to the diaconate?

A: I am very excited to be taking this step and being able to more fully share in the ministry.  I can’t wait to preach, to baptize and to bless in the name of God and the Church.


Name: Joseph Marc McLagan

Joseph McLagan

Birthdate: Dec. 26, 1985

Born and reared: Born in Kansas City, Mo.; reared in Grandview, Mo., and Littleton, Colo.

Seminary: St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver

Q: Describe your educational and professional background before entering formation.

A: Graduated from Highlands Ranch High School in 2004; graduated from Arapahoe Community College in 2006 with an associate’s degree in general studies; graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in 2008 with a bachelor of arts in philosophy and a minor in history.

Q: When did you first feel called to the priesthood?

A: By the time I had moved to Greeley to study philosophy, I was questioning my identity: who was I, what am I about and where am I going? These questions kept recurring. However, through some good direction by friends, I began to get involved with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) in attending Bible studies and forming friendships there. I also got involved in the university parish, St. Peter’s. With my questions receiving answers and my prayer life growing, I began to trust in the Lord. I went to teach Totus Tuus in the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo., for two summers, and one summer in the Archdiocese of Denver before entering seminary. All along the way, the Lord and I were deepening our relationship with each other. Through these summers of Totus Tuus the Lord was showing me the call he had for me, and I was truly grateful to have said yes.

Q: What is your favorite pastime?

A: My favorite pastimes in no particular order: prayer, playing sports among friends (golf, basketball, flag football, volleyball) camping and hiking, fishing, brewing a good beer, reading and engaging the intellectual life and the arts.

Q:  In today’s world, a call to celibacy is seen as radical, if not impossible. How have you reconciled the priesthood’s call to celibacy with this challenging cultural perspective?

A: Many people I encounter have no clue as to
what celibacy is or its gifts. At times the culture has appeared to lose its understanding of the origins of things. Celibacy is radical gift for one to receive in the truest and first sense possible:  it is basic, fundamental, ingrained, or goes to the root or origin (look up “radical” in the dictionary). For us Roman Catholics, it is a discipline and part of the foundation of what the priesthood entails, which we see in the example of Jesus Christ. 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.

Q: How do you feel about this step in your priesthood formation of being ordained to the diaconate?

A: I am excited about this step. I trust that the Lord has me where he wants me.


Full Name: Franklin Anastacio Sequeira Treminio

Franklin Sequeira

Birth Date: Aug. 21, 1980

Born and reared:  Born in Matagalpa, Nicaragua; reared in Ciudad Dario, Nicaragua

Seminary:  Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary

Q: Describe your educational and professional background before entering formation.

A: I graduated in 1998 from a Catholic high school named Ruben Dario Institute run by the Franciscans in Ciudad Dario, Nicaragua, my hometown. Before entering the seminary, I was doing my second year of college in the Universidad de las Americas located in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In the meantime I worked part time as a taxi driver for my grandfather in my home town.

Q: When did you first feel called to the priesthood?

A: I was 15 when I first heard that God was calling me 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 Neocatechumenal Way.

Q: What is your favorite past time?

A: Being with my family.

Q: In today’s world, a call to celibacy is seen as radical, if not impossible. How have you reconciled the priesthood’s call to celibacy with this challenging cultural perspective

A: 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. 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.

Q: How do you feel about this step in your priesthood formation of being ordained to the diaconate?

A: I feel very excited about it, but I step forward into it with the conviction that it is the Lord who has called me and that he is the one who is going to give me the graces necessary to give my life totally to the Church, God’s people.

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.”