2019 Mission & Ministry Student Awards

Sister Laura with Spike the bulldog mascot
Sister Laura Michels (2012 file photo)

May 16, 2019

The Saint Peter Faber Award

(Presented by Luke Lavin)

Saint Peter Faber was one of the earliest Jesuit companions, along with St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius Loyola. Pope Francis, who has a special devotion to Faber, has referred to him as “a man of great dreams . . . with a deep inner life, and … a gift of making friends with people of all kinds.”

He went on to say: “An authentic faith always implies a deep desire to change the world.” In that spirit, the St. Peter Faber Award is presented annually to students who live out an authentic faith, with a deep desire to change the world. They exemplify these qualities through their spiritual maturity, leadership and ministry in the Gonzaga community. These are students who have worked to enrich our faith culture here on campus, and who have inspired others with their loving service. 

This year, the Office of Mission and Ministry recognized two outstanding senior ministers: Lexie Schierman and John Hatton.

Luke Laving between a female and male student

No matter if she is hanging out with residents, leading her Christian Life Community or working on the pediatrics floor at Sacred Heart, Lexie Schierman is a servant leader. She is a woman of strong and deep faith, which she has found numerous ways to live and express at GU. She is finishing her second year as the student minister living in Madonna Hall, has been involved in most of our retreat programs and led Young Life College as well as helping at Thirst, GU’s weekly praise and worship night. In the greater Spokane community, she has been a worship leader at Summit Church. Like St. Peter Faber, Lexie lives and witnesses to a deep inner life that nurtures not only herself, but all those she serves.

During his first weeks at Gonzaga, John Hatton waltzed into Mission & Ministry after our pre-orientation retreat and put his name, via post-it, on a then empty office space. We all laughed at the time but were amazed when, over time, students came in referencing “his” office. He slowly amassed a base of students he would visit with. 

John helped revamp our first-year retreat and spent two years developing a men’s ministry program. He had a penchant for what we would call “relational ministry” – providing a listening ear, a desire to accompany, new food and good coffee all while delving into students’ spiritual lives. John will take his ability to meet, to connect, and to dive deep in relationship into his professional life. He will do so with the same care and reverence he has cultivated through our office and on campus.

The Sr. Laura Michels Award

(Presented by Janean Steer)

A year ago, the Gonzaga community lost one of our most beloved members, Sister Laura Michels. Sister Laura arrived at Gonzaga in 1986 as the liturgical coordinator for Mission and Ministry. In later years she also served as chaplain for the women’s basketball and men’s baseball teams. She loved being with the student athletes, and she loved cheering them on at their games.

To honor her memory, we present the Sr. Laura Michels Award to an outstanding senior student athlete or athletes who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership by his or her dedication to a life of faith grounded in love of God and made visible by service to those most in need. 

This year, Mission and Ministry honors two outstanding senior athletes who have been models of faith and ministry: Justin Blatner and Garret Wilson.

Janean Steer between two male students

Justin Blatner was influential in establishing a culture of service and leadership as a member of the baseball team. One staff member wrote, “Justin’s dedication to service is extraordinary and has led to a departmental record of community outreach served by a single team with 1,000 hours in the fall of 2018. He has consistently brought new ideas to the table, always hoping to better both the Gonzaga and Spokane communities. Justin created a sports equipment collection for a local school that had very little. He and his teammates also recently went out of their way to consistently help an elderly resident with yard work as a way to have her stay in her home and manage her property, an idea that was his. Justin’s leadership and service are quiet in action but incredibly loud in the impact they make.”

Garrett Wilson is one of the fiercest competitors on the soccer field and one of the most compassionate, caring people off the field. A staff member wrote: “Over the years, Garrett’s intention as a leader has been to involve himself in the improvement of the student-athlete experience as much as he possibly can. In doing so, he has helped the department and his peers develop in ways we could not foresee. First, it was his voice in the Student-Athlete Leadership Institute and the creation of the ZagOlympics program, where he mentored freshmen in their transition to Gonzaga and helped to promote inter-departmental cohesion among varsity athletic teams.”

Garrett’s efforts led to more intentional and impactful outreach and a departmental record of over 4,200 hours of service among student-athletes. In Christian leadership, he has been involved with the men’s ministry team and a senior leader in Bulldog Athlete Ministry. His intentionality has led to a handful of his teammates coming to Bulldog Athlete Ministry as well as to Summit Church. 

Sr. Laura Michels was known across campus for her generous spirit, her huge heart and her incredible smile. Both of these men emulate her.


For more on the great work being done to support students in their faith development, visit the Office of Mission & Ministry