By Maleah Ahuja
Sr. Jean Dolores Schmidt sat with a humble grin as she was inducted into the Illinois Senior Hall of Fame recently.
With the trademark maroon and gold scarf draped over her shoulders, the world-famous 99-year-old nun also offered words of comfort for fellow seniors who might feel afraid of getting old. Anyone, she said, “can always do good by a smile.”
Each year, one outstanding senior individual is inducted into each of the Hall of Fame’s three categories: education, community service, and performance/graphic arts.
As the Hall of Fame’s 2018 inductee in the category of education, as well as the chaplain for the Loyola Men’s basketball team and one of Loyola’s most beloved community members, Sr. Jean drew a large crowd of dignitaries, including Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, President of the Senate John Cullerton, and Loyola’s Acting Provost, Margaret Callahan. Cullerton joked that celebrating Sr. Jean was a rare and worthy bipartisan occasion that could bring together even he and Rauner.
Cullerton also praised the new inductee for being “deserving of the recognition even if Loyola had never won a [basketball] game,” then added with a smile, “but thank God they did.”
At this Sr. Jean’s smile lit up, showing her Rambler pride. Rauner got a big laugh when he said he was surprised “no one had nominated [Sister Jean] for mayor of Chicago yet.”
At the ceremony in Loyola’s Corboy Courtroom–a part of its downtown Chicago campus–media representatives jostled to get a photo of Rauner and Sr. Jean.