Love. Revere. Discover. Connect.

Rev. Joseph (Joe) Donatone

I completed my BA in English Literature at The Ohio State University.  In June 2020, I completed a hybrid format Masters of Divinity at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.  I also served as Intern Minister at Tri-County Unitarian Universalists,  a UU congregation of 120 retirees near The Villages, Florida.   In October 2020, the Unitarian Universalist Association welcomed me into preliminary fellowship.  Tri-County Unitarian Universalists and First Unitarian Church of Orlando jointly ordained me last December.   Perhaps the most important milestone occurred in August 2015 when I got sober, allowing me to answer the calling to ministry that I had long avoided.

Today, I am completing a year-long residency at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.  In October, I will begin a second-year fellowship.  I primarily work with suicidal veterans and explore the intersection of spirituality and complex emotional pain, including severe mental illness, military sexual trauma, and PTSD.  I also enjoy exploring the rich diversity, resilience and hope found in Queer and Recovery Theologies and their relevance to mental health chaplaincy.

I grew up in Kingsville, Ohio, a rural community in Ashtabula County, about an hour east of Cleveland.  My father was Catholic, my mother was Presbyterian, and I was active in both faiths simultaneously in my early years.  As a teen, I began the process of coming out as gay and was excluded from both congregations, resulting in two decades of being “unchurched.”  Through both AA and Unitarian Universalism, I have reconciled most of my resentment toward organized religion and anger with God (we’re buddies now).  I’m single, have no pets but love animals, and am a new resident of Cleveland’s historic Little Italy neighborhood.   When not living in service to our amazing UU movement or the veterans at the VA, I’m a burgeoning distance runner and carb fanatic…one literally feeds the other!