What is consecration and why do it?

Archdiocese of Denver prepares for consecration Oct. 13 to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

On Oct. 13, the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila will consecrate the Archdiocese of Denver to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“Mary wishes to assist us, through her Immaculate Heart, in bringing the world back to God. This is why I am encouraging people to join me in consecrating themselves, their families, parishes, and the archdiocese to her Immaculate Heart,” Archbishop Aquila said.

The act of consecration will take place at the end of a Marian prayer service at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and Archbishop Aquila invites parishes across the archdiocese to participate, either in attending the service at the cathedral, or within their own parishes through a livestream.

For those who wish to participate in the consecration of the archdiocese, making an individual consecration is a great way to do so. The normal length of preparation is 33 days, which would mean the 33-day start would be Sept. 11 for consecration on Oct. 13.

But why should we consecrate ourselves as individuals, and what is it?

 

What’s a consecration?

Consecration means “to make holy.” When one makes an act of consecration, it is made ultimately to God with the understanding that our consecration is a serious commitment on our part to respond faithfully to God’s grace at work in our lives.

When consecrating ourselves to Our Lady, we are consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary. As Pope John Paul II explained, “Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to him who is holy, infinitely holy; it means accepting her help—by having recourse to her motherly heart, which beneath the cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world—in order to offer the world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to him who is infinitely holy” (May 13, 1982).

“Consecration to the Mother of God,” says Pope Pius XII, “is a total gift of self, for the whole of life and for all eternity; and a gift which is not a mere formality or sentimentality, but effectual, comprising the full intensity of the Christian life – Marian life.” This consecration, the Pope explained, “tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary.”

 

Why consecrate the diocese?

While there is a long history of consecration to Mary, the practice of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, Our Lady said to the three little shepherds: “God wishes to establish the devotion to her Immaculate Heart in the world in order to save souls from hell and bring about world peace, and also asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.”

Pope Pius XII consecrated the Church and the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942, as World War II continued to rage on. “To you, to your Immaculate Heart, in this tragic hour of human history, we confide our fortunes, putting ourselves in your hands,” the Pope prayed.

John Paul II did the same on May 13, 1982, and again on March 25, 1984, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption, in union with many of the bishops around the world. On Oct. 8, 2000, he made an act of entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the new millennium.

Between them, Pius XII and John Paul II consecrated the Church and the entire world to Mary a total of eight times. On Oct. 13, 2013, Pope Francis renewed the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and dedicated his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.

The Archdiocese of Denver has never before been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver rededicated the Archdiocese of Denver to the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 2004, 150 years after the establishment of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

The act of consecration to Mary “establishes a relationship of love with her in which we dedicate to her all that we have and are,” says Saint John Paul II. “This consecration is practiced essentially by a life of grace, of purity, of prayer, of penance that is joined to the fulfillment of all the duties of a Christian, and of reparation for our sins and the sins of the world” (Sept. 26, 1986).

 

Consecration of the Archdiocese of Denver will take place Friday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 – 9 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and in participating parishes. For more information on the event and on consecration, or to learn more about preparation, visit archden.org/heartofmary.

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.”