Radiating beauty ‘grace upon grace’

Holy Name Parish’s dedication of new altar and renovation lead faithful into deeper worship

The paintings, the colors, the sounds and aroma… everything plays its role in the harmony of a church, the beautiful and holy place capable of lifting soul and body to worship the true God wholeheartedly.

Who said liturgical beauty belonged to cathedrals of centuries past?

Holy Name’s renovation and dedication of its new altar, at the hand of Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila May 19, has the goal of bringing the faithful to a “glimpse of heaven on earth,” as Pope Benedict XVI insisted, saying that beauty was not “mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation.”

“[The renovation is] first and foremost for the glorification of God,” said Father Daniel Cardó, pastor of Holy Name Parish in Denver and member of the Sodalitium of Christian Life. “The whole idea is about how we can love God more, how we can worship in a better way, how we can adore him with even greater reverence.”

Sheridan, Colorado – Dedication of the Altar and blessing of Holy Name Parish celebrated by Most Reverend Samuel J Aquila May 19 (photos by Andrew Wright)

After remodeling the parish hall and offices with the purpose evangelization, formation and spiritual direction, Father Cardó and some parishioners knew that they could do more.

“We were feeling the next step was to beautify our Church, not because it was bad, but because we could benefit from even a better process of beautification and some improvements that ultimately would help us glorify God more and more,” he said.

In gratitude for the abundance of blessings the parish has received through its faithful parishioners in its more than 100 years, the pastor saw this project as a “grace upon grace,” understanding that there is always room for greater love and piety.

“This is possible thanks to the generosity of parishioners,” Father Cardó said. “It was a long process of discernment with [them] and with the architects from Intervention Design Group, who are very, very good.”

Inspired in part by the parish’s existing architectural tradition and the use of colors and patterns by the 19th-century British architect Augustus Pugin, the renovation of the sanctuary, floor, baptistry and other elements at Holy Name Parish serves the purpose of evangelizing through the senses by leading the faithful more deeply into the mystery of the Liturgy – a tradition greatly treasured by the Church.

Knowing about the project, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship, wrote a unique letter to Father Cardó and the parish community saying, “How beautiful [the dedication] must be, knowing your love for the liturgy!… invoking Almighty God’s blessing upon you and the entire community of Holy Name, especially as you worship the Lord with even greater reverence in your remodeled church.”

After months of celebrating Mass at the renewed parish hall, parishioners awaited with “excitement” and “great expectation” the Dedication of the new Altar and the blessing of the renovated church.

Here are some of the church’s remodeled elements and their meaning:

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

Altar: Made out of marble, the “simple, yet beautiful” altar will contain relics of six great Catholic saints, who will intercede for the parish: St. Augustine, Francis Xavier, Vincent de Paul, Therese of Lisieux, Maria Goretti and Pius X.

 

Chancel area: The blue and red are taken from the

(photo by Andrew Wright)

beautiful Crucifix of Jesus High Priest, which highlights that the sacraments come from the Cross. The background includes the symbols “HIS,” which is the Holy Name of Jesus, along with garden elements, as a reminder that the Liturgy is a renewed Paradise.

 

 

Ceiling: The ceiling of the chancel area and the four panels on top of the altar are blue and contain crosses.

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

This serves as a reminder that a church on earth is the house of God and that through the Liturgy, we are in touch with the heavenly reality, participating in the Liturgy of Heaven. The “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus” also reflects this truth, signaling where Jesus becomes present.

 

Bricks: This solid material connects the whole church, outlining its unity and the unity of the people of God.

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

It allows for the sanctuary to feel renovated but not foreign to the structure of the whole church.

 

Threshold: The threshold from the nave to the sanctuary points to their unity and continuity, but also to the distinction between them. The sanctuary is the Holy of Holy’s, so it is distinguished from the rest of the Church through this symbol and others, such as the marble and tile.

 

 

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

Floor: The new floor contains symbolic elements – crosses and diamonds – which give the Church a sense of direction, pointing to the presence of Christ in the sanctuary. It also gives visual unity to the building, connecting altar, crucifix and tabernacle.

 

 

 

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

Tiles: Three unique tiles will be placed in the Church: the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the back, the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the middle and the Trinity in the front. This explains that from Mary we go to Jesus and, through Jesus, to the mystery of God.

 

Steps: The verse “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bend” is divided and painted on the three steps. Although this may not be visible from the back, a church must communicate symbolically, and some elements are meant to reveal themselves the closer a person approaches them.

 

Baptistery: Positioned in the back and to the side, the new baptistery allows for a procession to the altar.

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

It has a blue ceiling, because there we become children of God, and octagons and crosses on the floor. The octagon symbolized the eight day, the New Creation through baptism, and the cross stresses the origin of baptism, which is the open side of Jesus.

 

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.”