Director of Spiritual Care Joe Marinello Bridges Desire for Faith Within Community

Monarch’s Director of Spiritual Care Joseph Marinello has experienced the profound effect that faith and love can have on someone.

The encounter, that may have firmly planted Marinello’s feet into serving in his current role, happened over 25 years ago while conducting a group discussion with violent offenders in a prison. When each member of the group was asked to define love, one participant couldn’t answer.

He had never been told the sentiment.

“As I listened to his story, I ran over to him and hugged him for about 15 minutes. He was sobbing,” Marinello recounted, noting that today he maintains correspondence with him. “That was an awakening for me and one of the reasons why I do what I do. God can heal. I relate to this story often because, for me, it was a tremendous moment.”

Marinello’s passion and enthusiasm for his role as Monarch’s director of spiritual care is evident as he recounts recent progress meeting with people we support, Monarch staff and faith leaders across North Carolina. Since assuming the role in November 2018, he confided that their warm welcome and interest has been humbling.

He initially heard about the availability of the director of spiritual care role from Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Long-term Services and Support Jim Kelley while a member of Monarch’s Leadership Academy class last year. Following acceptance of the role, it was important to Marinello to continue working as a direct support professional at Sugar Creek and Frontenac apartments in Charlotte, where he began in 2017. Marinello said he has learned many life-changing lessons from working side-by-side with the apartments’ residential staff and through the people we support.

Marinello said through discussions with the people we support he has witnessed the desire to integrate faith into their lives. “Do they want to become an usher? Do they want to sing in the choir? They want the ability to practice and be involved in their faith. Faith has a definite correlation in the healing process . . . It is a three-way package that promotes healing for mind, body and spirit. We want to give the people we support every opportunity to do that along with their families,” he explained.

New to the role, Marinello welcomes suggestions as he moves forward. “A director of spiritual care is something a lot of mental health practices don’t have. One of our priorities is to collaborate with all denominations and faith communities,” Marinello said. “We want to provide a new initiative to the people we support. There is a hunger and thirst for spiritual care.”

Many of those supported through Monarch services attend church events or are involved within faith communities. Marinello’s role will direct that effort more effectively and create new opportunities for many others wishing to express their faith.

While meeting with faith leaders, Marinello delivers information about Monarch services available, noting that churches are realizing the necessity of implementing a mental health committee within their congregations. “Especially in today’s environment, there is a stereotype about mental illness and behavioral health . . . It does not define you as a person. It is a small piece of who you are,” he observed. “We are reaching out to the different congregations and letting them know of our services. If we can identify someone who has a substance abuse issue or mental health issue, we certainly want to be there to help and let them know of the services we offer.”

Pleased with the progress made in a short time, Marinello looks forward to what the rest of the year holds: “I feel at this juncture in my career this is a calling. I don’t look at this like a job, this is a vocation . . . something that God wants me to do. I want to be an instrument of change for the people we support.”

Marinello holds degrees in Community Counseling from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte; Business Management from Belmont Abbey College; Accounting and Finance from Wagner College; and Accounting from St. John’s University. He is a member of American Counseling Association, the Association of Group Work and the American College of Certified Forensic Counselors.

Through his service in community programs, he has received numerous awards and held a number of board positions including: Domestic Violence Initiatives’ Home Town Hero, 2008; North Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence’s Men for Change Award, 2006; top Mental Health Professional, 26th Judicial Court District, 2008; and, past president and director, Diocese of Charlotte Catholic Schools Advisory Board, 1994-2003.

A native of Queens, NY, Marinello moved to Charlotte in 1991, where he resides with his wife, Linda. The couple has seven children and nine grandchildren.

Photo caption: Director of Spiritual Care Joe Marinello was humbled and proud to recently receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Forensic Counselors for “selfless dedication to giving above and beyond what is required in his profession, community colleagues and those in need.”