Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, better known as such Sister Jean, turned 104 years old on Monday.
Sister Jean, who has now become a March Madness icon, was born on August 21, 1919, in San Francisco, California. Tributes started pour on X, formerly known as Twitter for the religious sister from a number of fans.
Here are some of them:
“I keep saying that to myself,” she said in a 1998 interview. “Don’t let yourself sit around here and do nothing.”
Who is Sister Jean?
Jean is a religious sister at the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and chaplain for the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team of Loyola University Chicago (LUC).
The website for LUC describes Jean as someone who “makes a point to say ‘good morning’ to every person she encounters. Some students are busily typing out a text or paying attention to the music playing in their earbuds, so sometimes Sister Jean has to startle them out of their routine to get their attention. But when they see her unmistakable smile, they all stop and share a greeting in return.”
“That’s being a person for others by just being yourself,” she says. “That’s the way I am. I have to be myself. I tell students that—you’ll see people that you admire, you can do some of the things they do, but you have to be yourself. God made you the person who you are.”
60 years back, Sister Jean moved from California to the Chicago area where she has lived ever since. She assumed the role of chaplain for the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team in 1994 and came to international fame during the Ramblers’ NCAA Tournament runs in 2018 and 2021.
She began her career as a teacher at Mundelein College in 1961. Sister Jean remained there until that institution merged with Loyola in 1991. After that she joined the men’s basketball team as a chaplain.
On August 31, Sister Jean will be honored with a block party at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus.