Warm Greetings UUCW —

I am so excited to be joining you as your quarter-time Assistant Minister for Pastoral Care. We may have met when I was a guest in UUCW’s pulpit, and I am looking forward to getting to know you all.

I have spent this pandemic year serving UUs in Oregon, right from my office in West Milwaukee, WI. It’s going to be exciting to serve a congregation that is less than nine miles from my house. My three-quarter-time ministry contract in Hillsboro, OR ends in July and until then, I will be serving you concurrently.

I am a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago and was ordained by Bradford Community Church UU in Kenosha, where I served as intern minister.  In addition to UU congregational experience, I provided spiritual and emotional support chaplaincy at Planned Parenthood and worked in non-profit management throughout Wisconsin for more than 20 years.  Prior to my calling to ministry, I was a pivotal player in diversity, inclusion, marriage equality, and voting rights for two decades, and I was a member of First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee.

My creative 14-year-old son Aidan and our fluffy dogs live in Milwaukee, WI. I share Aidan and the dogs with my ex-wife Anne. My sweetie, Matt Aspin, is also a UU minister. I identify as queer, and I am multi-cultural or multi-racial. Half of my ancestors are White Europeans from Ireland and Canada. My maternal great-grandmother was Romani or Roma or the slang being Gypsy (a word only Romani people can use without it being pejorative) and was enslaved and escaped via Austria and Italy. My maternal grandfather’s family has a mix of Italian, Romani, and Slovenian ancestry. I am the first generation in my family to go to college and the first to attend graduate school. I spent the majority of my life living within federal poverty levels. I grew up Catholic and have attended many Catholic institutions. I wrote my first sermon in high school, and I’m the first in my family to become a minister.

I love walking by big bodies of water. I am a fiber artist and I enjoy drawing and painting. My art is a vivid part of my spiritual practice. I enjoy creating worship and pastoral experiences laced with visuals to capture the senses. Ministry helps me combine my greatest loves: advocacy, social justice, art, reading, and writing into my life’s calling, which is to inspire people to love.

I am bursting with joy in anticipation of getting to know YOU!!!

Rev. Denise Cawley


Read the UUCW Ministry Team Announcement