Mission and Ministry
Alumni Living the Mission

Heather Thomason and Aubrey Thonvold

  • Aubrey and I met when we were attending seminary at Seattle University so the two of us are very thankful for our shared Jesuit education for many reasons! Our Jesuit experience gave us both the gift of being able to be fully ourselves and to live out the calling God has placed in our lives.
     
    I (Heather) have completed all 10 years of college, seminary and post-graduate school at Jesuit universities and the thing that most strikes me about the education is the emphasis on service. After graduation from seminary, I accepted a position working with felony-level incarcerated youth. What my Jesuit education has taught me, and more specifically what I learned in seminary at Seattle University, is to look beyond what’s on the surface and dig deeper. When I did that I realized the youth I work with come from horrific life situations. Imagine if you’re a 12 or 13 year old kid who has no idea where their next meal is coming from, or your don’t know where you’re going to sleep tonight, or you live in constant fear of being sexually assaulted again. It doesn’t take much digging to see that these kids have endured a lifetime of pain and brokenness which led them to take certain actions in order to survive. While it doesn’t excuse the crimes they committed, when you look at the totality of their life circumstances, things become a little clearer and that is where the work I do with youth begins. When they know I am not sitting in a place of judgment and shame, but rather in a place of radical openness to hear and honor their story, we are able to accomplish incredible things during their treatment. Seattle University has taught me how to live from my heart in a way that is life-giving and honoring of myself and others.
     
    As I (Aubrey) sat in classes at STM I heard a theme that people of faith are called to live out the gospel message of loving God and loving our neighbors.  At STM we explored who our neighbors are, ways to express God’s endless love for them, and how living out of love can change the world around us. I have taken this to heart and it has become my life’s ministry to make sure all people have the opportunity to experience full inclusion under the law.  Since graduating from STM I have spent my professional career working to make sure all loving committed couples have the freedom to marry.  I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with faith communities in Washington and Hawaii.  Through outreach, education, and organizing, people of faith have used their time, talent, and resources to make sure all people have the freedom to marry the person they love.  My Jesuit education has ignited a fire in me to live each day making sure all God’s beloved are welcome and free.   
     
    We both believe very strongly that what we do in the world matters. Whether it is giving a listening ear to someone or helping a marginalized group in their struggle for equality, we are both committed to being women for others. We know the love we share has a transformative power unlike anything else in our world. Our combined Jesuit experiences have equipped us to do the work we feel most called to do and continue to uphold the ideals I (Heather) first encountered at Marquette University of faith, excellence, leadership and service.
  • Heather Thomason (Marquette '07, Seattle U, '11 & '12) and Aubrey Thonvold (Seattle U, '12)