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In Memoriam

Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of our brother, Fr. Gene M. Donatelli, SJ, who died on November 29, 2023 at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan. He was 73 years old. May he rest in peace.

Gino was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 13, 1950. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Kentucky (1972) before entering the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus at Loyola House in Berkley, Michigan on September 3, 1972. He was ordained a priest on June 12, 1982 at Madonna della Strada Chapel on the campus of Loyola University Chicago, and pronounced final vows at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois, on May 24, 1990.

While in the Society, Gino earned a master’s degree in English from New York University (1976) and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Santa Clara University (1983). He earned a doctor of ministry in Theology from Lexington Theological Seminary (2001) and an advanced certificate in pastoral psychotherapy from the Center for Religion and Psychology in Chicago, Illinois (2005).

During regency Gino taught English at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois (1976-1979). After ordination, he worked at Saint Ignatius College Prep as an English teacher (1983-1987) and the director of pastoral ministry (1987-1993).

After a well-deserved sabbatical, Gino directed his energy and talent into being present to people in the sacraments. He was missioned to Lexington, Kentucky, where he was the associate pastor of Cathedral of Christ the King (1995-1998) and Ss. Peter, Paul, and Peter Claver Churches (1996-2001). Gino spent eight years in Chicago where he was a chaplain at Loyola University Chicago’s Medical Center (2001-2009) before returning to his beloved Lexington where he was the parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church (2009-2010), Ss. Francis and John Church (2009-2010), and Cathedral of Christ the King (2010-2017). In 2017, Gino was missioned to Colombiere Center to care for his health and performed pastoral ministry.

Gino’s creativity was exceptional and his capacity to engage the people he served was remarkable. Whether in high school work, parish ministry, or hospital chaplaincy, he built vibrant relationships and always pointed folks toward Jesus. He was humble in wrestling with his own demons and always ready to grow in faith, hope, love, and service. His generosity in community was simple, genuine, and very much appreciated.

Rita O’Malley, the UMI provincial assistant for Ignatian spirituality, has this to say of Gino:
I was privileged to work with Gino during his time at Saint Ignatius College Prep (SICP) in Chicago and remained his friend. During those years, Gino collaborated to begin the Kairos program at SICP. He was a joyful presence, tireless in his pastoral work, and faithful to his relationships. Father Gino loved and was loved deeply by his students.

He never missed a significant milestone marked by a card filled with just the right sentiment and a shower of sparkles and glitter! Gino Donatelli, SJ, was a priest, pastor, companion, and encourager extraordinaire. We will miss him and find balm in the many joyful memories he gave us.