Loyola University’s Sister Jean Celebrates Her 100th Birthday

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt attends her 100th birthday celebration at Loyola University on Aug. 21, 2019, in Chicago. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt starts and ends every day the same way.

With joy and gratitude.

It’s a practice that has been serving Chicago’s beloved Catholic sister, better known simply as “Sister Jean,” for a century now.

“God’s been very good to me, keeping me as healthy as possible and keeping me active and keeping me thinking a straight way and keeping me able to help people,” said the 100-year sister, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who became a celebrity while serving as chaplain to the basketball team at Loyola University Chicago during its 2018 run to the Final Four.

“All those things I think have helped me live to this age.”

In a birthday celebration Wednesday (Aug. 21), held in Loyola’s student center, Sister Jean was joined by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other city, county and state officials.

Pritzker proclaimed it “Sister Jean Day” in the state of Illinois.

And Rooney announced more than $31,000 had been donated to the university’s Sister Jean Worship, Work and Win Fund, which supports Loyola student athletes and athletics. An additional $250,000 from an alum, matched by the university, had been donated to establish the Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt BVM Endowed Scholarship Fund for Loyola students, she said.

“You have touched the lives of generations of students at Loyola,” the university president said.

“In recent years, you have become a touch point of faith and optimism, of spiritual wisdom and of course, basketball expertise — and not just for us, but truly for people around the world.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Sister Jean was hard at work at the university’s freshman orientation, where she made sure to tell new students “how important they are to Loyola,” she said.

She was “overwhelmed” by all the well wishes shared in a video by those who couldn’t be with her in person to celebrate: Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Loyola basketball team, her fellow BVM sisters and even NBA legend-turned-commentator Charles Barkley.

“I have a lot more to live up to, so I better live a little longer,” she said.

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Source: Religion News Service