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Sister Laura Michels, chaplain to Gonzaga basketball and baseball teams, dies

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 8, 2018

Sister Laura Michels, who served the Gonzaga University community in various capacities for nearly 30 years, including as chaplain for the baseball and women’s basketball teams, has died, according to the university. She was 76.

“We are all saddened by her death and feel the void left by her loss. However, our memories of her will keep her alive in our hearts and help us to continue her legacy,” the university wrote on a page set up for her remembrance.

Born Janice Michels to father John and mother Catherine, she joined the Sisters of the Holy Names – a congregation whose roots in Spokane stretch back more than 125 years – out of high school, taking the name Laura.

“I would listen to the sisters give talks,” she told the Gonzaga Bulletin in 2012 of her decision to become a nun. “They would say if it’s something that keeps coming back to you again and again in little ways, pay attention to it, because if that’s the call that you’re meant to have, that’s where you’re going to be happiest in life.”

She joined Gonzaga in 1986, working in a liturgy position until 2000. She served for six years on the Holy Names leadership team before returning to the university, where she worked as coordinator of liturgy for the University Ministry office and as chaplain for the two athletic teams.

In her role as chaplain, Michels not only led the teams in prayer, but was known for original poetry, which she would recite to players prior to each game.

Many alumni chimed in on Gonzaga’s remembrance page Thursday.

“Her ear to ear smile, poems before our road trips, and endless love and support are something I will always cherish,” wrote Travis Forbes, of the class of ’13. “Heaven has truly gained an angel.”

She is survived by multiple nephews and nieces.

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