Registrations under way for first TeleForum with archbishop (updated)

Archbishop Samuel Aquila, pictured here, will host a phone call, open to all Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver, at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 to deliver a Christmas message, as well as to offer participants an opportunity to ask questions and leave feedback.

The TeleForum titled “Enter the Mystery” will take place 7 p.m. Dec. 21. Register for free at www.archden.org to be called by the archbishop and have the chance to have your questions answered live.

UPDATED  DEC. 20, 2014:  Another way to join in the call with Archbishop Aquila Dec. 21 is by calling 877-229-8493, and enter PIN 113843, any time during the call. Recording of entire call will be available at vekeo.com

As Catholics across northern Colorado register for the first ever TeleForum with Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, many have sent in questions wondering what to expect from the live, interactive phone call. To answer these questions, the Denver Catholic Register spoke with Karna Swanson, executive director of communications for the Archdiocese of Denver. Read below for answers on why the archdiocese is launching the TeleForum, and why it is a perfect way for families to prepare for Christmas.

Q: What is a TeleForum?
A: Think of a town hall, but instead of having to get into your car and drive across town, you can participate wherever you happen to be on Sunday (Dec. 21) at 7 p.m. All you need to do is answer your phone, and you and your family will be participating in the event in real-time with the archbishop and thousands of other Catholics around northern Colorado.

During the TeleForum each participant will have the opportunity to ask a question, just as you would in a town hall meeting. In the TeleForum, however, everyone will also be able to leave a recorded message that will be transcribed and sent to the archbishop. There will also be opportunities to participate in short polls and surveys.

Q: Why is the archdiocese launching the TeleForum?
A: The archbishop is launching the TeleForum because he wants to hear directly from the Catholics of northern Colorado! This, and future phone events, will open up a new line of communication between the archbishop and parishioners that will enable both to ask and answer questions about the Church. The TeleForum is used extensively by politicians to keeps constituents informed and engaged; the archbishop wants to reach out to Catholics in the same way.

Q: Who should participate, and what kind of questions can I ask?
A: Any Catholic that wants an opportunity to talk directly with the archbishop, ask questions about the Church, and wants to ensure that his or her voice is heard should participate.

With regard to the questions, we would like everyone to feel free to ask anything that is on your mind and heart. But in particular, it would be amazing to receive honest and open questions about key obstacles one encounters in living a Christian life, for example: Is confession hard for you? Why? What can we do to help?

Another fantastic element of the TeleForum is the ability to take part in short polls and surveys during the event. This is a way to give instant feedback on how the event is going, on which topics are most interesting and what themes should be considered for a future event.

Q: Will there be a format for the event? How long will it last?
A: The event should last between 45 minutes and an hour. It will begin with an introduction by the moderator, who will explain the event and how to ask a question. The archbishop will then share a short Christmas message, and then he will take questions from the audience. Throughout the event, the moderator will take short polls and surveys.

Once the event ends, participants can stay on the line to leave a voicemail, which can be questions that weren’t answered, requests for more information or comments on the event. Also, the entire event will be posted online.

Q: Why at Christmas? Aren’t we busy enough?
A: It’s true, we are all very busy this time of year, which is exactly why the archbishop chose the Sunday before Christmas to launch the TeleForum. There are so many distractions pulling for our attention as we draw closer to the celebration of Christ’s birth, and it’s right at that moment that we all need a gentle reminder about what exactly we are going to celebrate a few days later. That’s also why we titled the event “Enter the Mystery.” This will be an opportunity for all of us to get on the phone together with our archbishop, take a break from the hectic pace of the holiday season, and remember that Christmas is about celebrating the most unfathomable of mysteries.

Q: How do I participate?
A: To participate in the TeleForum, all you need to do is register your phone number for free at www.archden.org. Be ready a few minutes before 7 p.m. on Dec. 21, and the archbishop will give you a call. Put the phone on speaker, and participate as a family!

COMING UP: Father and son, deacon and priest: Deacon dads and priest sons share special bond as both serve God’s people

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

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.”