Reverend Joanne Petto
Reverend Joanne Petto
The Rev. Joanne Petto was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and her
family moved to Iselin, New Jersey when she
was five years old.
is the oldest of five children and the only daughter and was raised as a Roman Catholic.
After attending Catholic schools in New Jersey throughout high school, Rev. Petto moved to Jamaica, New York to attend St. John's University.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Hospital Administration and began her career at Jamaica Hospital.
The call to ministry was persistently present in Rev. Petto's
life throughout the twenty-three years of her
desire to become more engaged in the Church of Jesus Christ
eventually led her
to the First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury, which she
joined in 1994.
As a member of this congregation, Rev. Petto
taught Sunday School, Adult Education and Confirmation class.
sense of call exerted itself early in life when she
volunteered in grade school to help out with the Special Education classes.
The desire to make a contribution continued to develop and she
often found ways to volunteer her
time mentoring children at risk and victims of domestic violence.
Continuing to respond to God's call on her life, Rev. Petto attended New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where she received her Master of Divinity in 2003.
has always believed that God's call was to chaplaincy and she
continues to meet the needs of God's children wherever they may be in their journey.
Following that call, Rev. Petto was ordained as Minister of Word and Sacrament with the Presbyterian Church (USA) here in Cranbury in 2004.
Through her volunteer work with the Plainsboro Police Department, Rev. Petto learned about police chaplaincy, described as a 'theology of presence.' She has served as the chaplain for the Plainsboro Township Police Department since 1999 and with the New Jersey State Police since 2006.
has found this to be a wonderfully reciprocal ministry and the law enforcement officers with whom she
serves consider themselves to be her
Through this experience, Rev. Petto
became involved in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) response.
Following the tragedy of 9/11, Rev. Petto
worked one 12-hour shift per week at the World Trade Center site for the first 15 weeks.
Since 1999, she
has responded to numerous calls throughout the State whenever a law enforcement officer is injured or killed in the line of duty, or when they have experienced a traumatic situation.
believes that her
ministry is to be present with those who are walking through the shadow of the valley and she
has walked this journey with so many who have needed to feel the love of God through the presence of another human being.
Rev. Petto's ministry has also extended to hospice where she has worked as a chaplain and bereavement manager.
Through these ministries, she
continues to be available to those in need, hoping that God's love and grace and mercy will be made known to them through their human relationships.