Ministry in the Catholic Church comes in a variety of forms, as four men affiliated with All Saints Parish can attest.
Gene Beecher and Brian Mizzoni have recently begun formation as permanent deacons in the Diocese of Rochester. Meanwhile, Brother Aquinas Beale (formerly Christopher Beale), OP, is a seminarian in the Order of Preachers — also known as the Dominicans — and Evan Jamison is in the midst of a one-year missionary commitment with Life Teen International.
Beecher, Mizzoni, Brother Beale and Jamison were the featured guests on the evening of Dec. 29 when they met parishioners, shared their vocational stories and answered questions. Their presentations took place at All Saints Parish’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Painted Post.
"I think it went great. We had a good crowd and they asked great questions," Beecher said.
"It was really a nice opportunity to give our own perspective of how each person was called (to serve the church)," Mizzoni added.
Mizzoni, 50, said his own calling began to surface strongly around 2007. He kept discerning and praying, and in 2015 was convinced to begin pursuing the diaconate after Lauretta Beale, All Saints’ director of youth and young-adult ministry, shared an observation with him.
"Lauretta said, ‘I think you have a call for the diaconate. I see this in you,’" recalled Mizzoni, 50, who is projected to be ordained a deacon in 2021 after four years of formation.
Mizzoni serves as a senior information technology analyst for Corning Inc. He and his wife, Tracy, have three children ages 15 to 21. Mizzoni is active at All Saints Parish, coordinating a monthly Latin Mass as well as eucharistic adoration. He also is a lector and assists with confirmation classes. In addition, he helped lead an effort resulting in the establishment of a Memorial to the Unborn that was erected in 2004 outside Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.
Beecher also is involved in several activities at All Saints, including the Alpha program — a series of group sessions in which Christianity is explored and discussed — as well as filling various liturgical roles and assisting with youth and evangelization.
"I don’t do anything halfway," he quipped, adding that he considers his pursuit of the diaconate a natural extension of his parish activities.
"I think from day one I’ve wanted to serve; that’s what I’ve always done. I just feel the need to help others," said Beecher, a convert to the Catholic faith whose ordination is due to occur in 2020.
Beecher, 53, is a maintenance foreman for the Corning-Painted Post Area School District. He and his wife, Beth, have two children ages 31 and 29.
Whereas Beecher and Mizzoni are visible in All Saints Parish year-round, Brother Beale and Jamison currently reside out of state. Both were recently visiting family for the holidays and thus were able to be part of the informational night Dec. 29.
Brother Beale, 29, is a seminarian at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He is due to be ordained a transitional deacon on March 11 and a priest in May 2018. He is the son of Lauretta Beale and her husband, David, who moved to Corning in 2015 from North Carolina.
Brother Beale grew up in Virginia and West Virginia. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia in 2009 and 2010, respectively, but shortly thereafter "I began to think positively about becoming a priest or religious for the first time," he said.
He said he was attracted to the Dominicans based on "their balance of the spiritual, community, academic and apostolic life, as well as the history of St. Dominic and the order." In 2011 he entered the order, taking the name Aquinas. He went on to make simple vows in 2012 and solemn vows in January 2016.
Brother Beale noted that three fellow Dominican students have families residing in the Diocese of Rochester: Brother Constantius Sanders, Brother Albert Dempsey and Brother James Wallace. In addition, Father Mario Calabrese, a Geneva native, was ordained a Dominican priest in 2014.
Jamison, meanwhile, currently resides in Tiger, a small town in northern Georgia, helping lead teenagers closer to Christ through his missionary duty with Life Teen International. He also went on a 10-day mission trip to Haiti in late 2016.
Jamison, 22, is a graduate of Corning West High School. Like Beecher he is a convert, having been welcomed into the Catholic Church in 2011 during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church, which also is part of All Saints Parish. He later joined the Capuchin Franciscan order, committing to three years of formation by studying at Borromeo Seminary in Cleveland and then becoming a candidate and postulant. However, Jamison has put plans for religious life on hold in favor of his current role as a missionary.
"It is what God was calling me to do," he said, adding that he’s still "really weighing my options" for his future when his missionary year expires this August.
"I need to be radically truthful to myself," he remarked.
Yet Jamison believes that people drawn to a life of ministry — including himself — should trust that God will eventually guide them to the right vocation.
"Even if you have no idea (of your specific calling), you keep on walking down that path," he said.