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Deacon Ordination August 21, 2021, at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Rochester

Story by Mike Latona/Photos by Jeff Witherow

"It's been a long time coming."
At top left: An incense boat is used at the start of Mass. At top right: Aaron Kelly (above) and Brian Mizzoni (below) process into Rochester's Sacred Heart Cathedral. Bottom: Priests process into the cathedral.

ROCHESTER — On Aug. 21, Deacons Aaron Kelly and Brian Mizzoni traveled to Rochester from their native Southern Tier for a monumental event in their lives — one that ended a formation journey involving several years of study, prayer and service.

And, at around noontime on this special Saturday, they began a new journey: Their ministerial lives as deacons for the Diocese of Rochester.

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano greets Aaron Kelly's family during the procession.

Deacons Kelly and Mizzoni were ordained by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano during a Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Deacon Kelly became a transitional deacon on his way to the diocesan priesthood, and Deacon Mizzoni was ordained a permanent deacon.

Both newly ordained deacons sported wide smiles as they were greeted after Mass by family members, friends, fellow deacons, priests, seminarians and other well-wishers.

Left: Bishop Matano begins the liturgy.

“I feel very excited,” Deacon Mizzoni said. He added that he’d prepared for the ordination early that morning by praying the rosary while traveling with family members to Rochester from Steuben County: “I meditated and put it all in the hands of Our Lady,” he said.

Deacon Kelly expressed similar excitement about his diaconal ordination, remarking, “It’s been a long time coming.”

Right: Brian Mizzoni bows to Bishop Matano.

Bishop Matano gives the homily.
Above: Brian Mizzoni pledges his obedience to Bishop Matano and his successors. Left: Mizzoni prostrates himself before the altar.
Above: Aaron Kelly pledges his obedience to Bishop Matano and his successors. Right: Kelly prostrates himself before the altar.

Indeed, the Horseheads native began seminary right out of high school eight years ago. He grew up in St. Mary Our Mother Parish, and his family currently worships at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in Tioga County.

As a transitional deacon, Deacon Kelly’s diaconate will only last one year. He will return to Rome Sept. 3 to resume studies at the Pontifical North American College, and he is slated to become a diocesan priest in mid-2022. Deacon Kelly’s priestly ordination will be followed by two more years of schooling as he pursues a licentiate in canon law.

At top: Bishop Matano places his hands on the heads of Aaron Kelly (left) and Brian Mizzoni (right). Bottom left: Deacon Aaron Kelly is vested by Father Peter Van Lieshout. Bottom right: Deacon Brian Mizzoni is vested by Deacon Vincent M. Kapral from the Diocese of Arlington, Va.

As for Deacon Mizzoni, he now begins his ministry as a permanent deacon at his parish, All Saints Parish in Corning, where he is involved in many ministries. He and his wife, Tracy, have three young-adult children. Deacon Mizzoni began formation for the permanent diaconate in January 2017, taking classes through St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry and performing a variety of field ministries. He is employed by Corning Inc. as an IT engagement leader for the company’s manufacturing, technology and engine division.

At top: Deacons Aaron Kelly (left) and Brian Mizzoni (right) are presented with the Book of the Gospels. Bottom: Deacons Mizzoni and Kelly sit beside Bishop Matano.

Transitional and permanent deacons, by virtue of their ordination, may serve at the altar, proclaim the Gospel and preach at Mass; they also are authorized to preside at baptisms, witness marriages and officiate at funerals outside of Mass.

Deacon Mizzoni said he’s looking forward to serving both his family within the Catholic Church and his biological family, saying he expects his ministry as a permanent deacon to strengthen both families.

Above: Deacon Brian Mizzoni looks on during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Right: Bishop Matano celebrates the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Above: Deacon Aaron Kelly is seen during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Left: Bishop Matano elevates the chalice.

Meanwhile, Deacon Kelly spoke of his diocesan family, noting that he gladly anticipates being reunited with them when his schooling is finally done.

“People in our diocese have been so good to me over the years. My desire is to go back and serve them,” he said.