Sister Jean turns 103: meet the famous Loyola nun

When Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt was 20, she heard someone say that 40 is when “you get put on the shelf.”

She thought to herself, “It’s kind of silly to talk about life that way. What am I going to do if I’m put in the closet at 40? »

The nun passed this milestone 60 years ago. At 40, she was just getting started. At 98, she was living a dream life.

Sister Jean had some of her most exciting years as the Loyola basketball team chaplain. She became the darling of the 2018 NCAA Tournament during the Ramblers’ unlikely run to the Final Four.

And she doesn’t plan to slow down as she turns 103 on Sunday.

“The legacy I want is that I helped people and I wasn’t afraid to give people my time and teach them to be positive about what’s going on and what they can do. good to others,” Sister Jean told the Tribune in 2019.

Here’s a look back at his rise to fame.

Sister Jean was born in San Francisco in 1919 – the year Congress approved women’s suffrage, Prohibition was ratified and the White Sox launched the World Series.

Born into a family of sports fans, Sister Jean played high school basketball from 1933 to 1937 on a court divided into three sections with rules that only allowed forwards to shoot. She became a nun after high school, joining the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary convent in Iowa, then returned to California in 1941 as a teacher and coach.

She accepted a teaching position at Mundelein College, a women’s school near Loyola, in 1961 and attended sporting events at both schools, leading some Mundelein teams to competitions. Mundelein merged with Loyola in 1991 and Sister Jean retired from the education department shortly thereafter.

A few years later, Loyola offered her to become the team’s chaplain. She prayed with the teams, offered him scouting reports and gave him post-game encouragement.

In 2018, an unexpected NCAA Tournament run for Loyola thrust Sister Jean into the national spotlight.

In fact, Sister John correct that.

“International celebrity,” she joked to a TV reporter. She mentioned being the subject of reports in Mexico and Britain.

In an interview via Skype with ‘Access Hollywood’, she deflected the praise and praised the team: “I think the fame lies with the coach and the team. I’m sort of in the background in pushing hard. They’re the ones playing and getting the credit.

“I walked by (and) thought it looked like Tom Brady at the Super Bowl,” Loyola coach Porter Moser said of his Final Four media availability.

The Ramblers lost in the Final Four to Michigan in San Antonio – but Sister Jean fever survived.

When Sister Jean turned 100 in 2019, she threw 10 birthday parties, one for each decade.

Longevity is in its genes. While her mother lived to be 74, her father lived to be 95, and she said all but one of her paternal uncles and aunts lived until the mid-1990s. Her grandfather lived with his family during his childhood.

Birthdays were to be celebrated, even when money was tight. His mother made sure that every child’s birthday was special. Sister Jean and her brothers could ask for a specific menu – her favorite was chicken fricassee, homemade noodles and pound cake with lots of frosting.

“Birthdays,” she told the Tribune, “are your special days.”

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Are Loyola players worried about being upstaged during the biggest moment of their college careers?

“I love that aspect of Sister Jean,” goalkeeper Lucas Williamson said in 2022. “I love what it adds to Loyola. She’s so important to what we do here, so having her recognized , that doesn’t take anything away from what we’re doing here.

“She has always been part of Loyola. It was nice. I can’t wait to see what his hooks look like.

Yes, getting Sister Jean’s parenthesis picks has been part of the Sunday pick for years now.

In 2022, she got Loyola into the Sweet 16 — but the Ramblers lost in the first round to Ohio State. In 2021, after watching the movie of the game, she predicted an upset Loyola of Illinois, top seed, … then watched it perform in person in Indianapolis.

Sister Jean knows that when people come over to say hello with their phone out, they really want to take a selfie with her.

“I’m walking down Michigan Avenue with a friend and people stop me and say, are you… are you…?” she said. “’Yes, I am Sister Jean.’ They stutter first, then they melt. I’m having a lot of fun.

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