Raised in Central New York just outside Syracuse in the mostly-farm village of Baldwinsville, I grew up with four seasons, six siblings and a steady parade of priests and nuns from whom I learned to follow Roman Catholicism devotedly. It didn't take long for me to reach for the brass ring: I declared my intention to become a Catholic priest not long after my eighth birthday.
However, by the end of high school I decided I would one day want to have a family and, after years of musical training, thought I might be a professional trumpet player. I gave up on the calling to a religious vocation. I didn’t know then that the calling would not give up on me.
It's a classic tale: In my early twenties I questioned Catholicism and in my early thirties crossed the river into Unitarian Universalism when my children were religious-education age. Turns out that underneath that river my early calling had remained an undercurrent, patiently waiting, and in 2012 I entered Andover Newton Theological School, transferring to Starr King School for the Ministry in 2018 when Andover Newton relocated to Yale Divinity School. I worked fulltime throughout seminary and graduated from Starr King in May 2020, entering ordained Unitarian Universalist ministry a year later. Along the way, I led worship for dozens of services as part of my ministerial preparation and I met hundreds of Unitarian Universalists.
I have been UU now for most of my adult life, and although I see our movement struggle with its own imperfections, including white supremacy, I believe our theology is worth the work. I believe a religious practice should nurture the spirit to be able to give and receive love and respect with passion and generosity, with a preferential option for the oppressed, and our faith movement captures all of this in ways that always feel true and meaningful to me.
I want more people to experience that hopefulness. I grew up in church; I believe in church. My job now is to help people understand that church can believe in them, too.
*I was named for Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621), an Italian Jesuit and a cardinal of the Catholic Church.
First sermon, age 5, brother Tom on the organ. Pulpit and organ by Flintstones Building Boulders.