By Wes Kinard, Loyola Senior
Sister Jean Delores Schmidt, 101 years young, comes from the balmy bay of San Francisco, California. Her impeccable spirit has transcended from coast to coast, leaving waves of charity and a warm smile that brightens the hearts of those she meets. You can find Sister Jean, the basketball Chaplin for Loyola University Chicago, praying modestly on game day for the Rambler fans, and for both basketball teams facing off at Gentile Arena. Her life’s journey is centered around her Catholic faith, with a value on education, charity, and living out the Christian gospels.
Join a conversation with Sister Jean and Rogers Edge Reporter to learn more about her life as a teacher, a basketball chaplain, and some of her most memorable experiences.
What inspired you to become a nun?
When I was in third grade, I had a Sister (nun) who was a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She told us that we were not too young to be thinking about what we wanted to do when we grew up. In those days there weren’t that many careers for women. When I was in first grade, I knew I wanted to to be a teacher, so I always subjected my two brothers to my teaching art. And I thought, well I can do both. I can be just like her. I can be a Sister and a teacher at the same time. She told us to pray every day that God would help us in making our decision. So I would pray every day and say, “Oh God please help me make my decision for when I grow up but tell me you want me to be a BVM Sister.” And I never changed my mind.
What was your most memorable experience teaching?
I had one little boy who loved being in school. I remember when I was teaching him fractions, he didn’t know what it meant to invert a fraction. My desk was on a platform, so I said, “Patrick you come up here, you put your hands on the platform. I ‘m not going to hurt you, I ‘m just going to show you what it means.” So I picked up his feet and held him upside down, and I said “that’s what I mean by inverting a fraction. Just turn it upside down.” He never forgot that!
What was your teaching style like?
I began my religion class in the morning with a meditation. I would walk around the room and tell them to put their heads on the desk because they could be distracted easily. And I would walk around telling them a gospel story. I would tell them to just be quiet for five minutes and just meditate. We did that every morning.
What’s the best part about being a basketball Chaplain?
It’s seeing them grow spiritually and intellectually. Our athletes are really good young men and women. I just pray out of my heart, and I tell them they have to play with their hearts and their heads. I will ask God to bless them so that the ball will go into the basket.
How do you prepare your pre-game prayers?
I prepare our prayer for the fans first of all and pray for both teams regardless of who our opponents are. In the team’s prayer, I include the scouting report. I tell them which guys I would watch out for.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with an unexpected challenge?
You have to rationalize what’s happening with the challenges and where it will get you. You have to look at both the pros and the cons in them. It’s the same way when you are thinking of changing your career. You have to do it calmly.
What’s your secret to longevity and good health?
I’ll have to say, the longevity comes from my father’s side of the family. And, I also say that I eat well, I sleep well, and hopefully I pray well. It’s just like the motto we have for our team; worship, work, and win.
What’s your favorite cake that you like to eat on your birthday?
I like a white cake, a lemon cake, or a pound cake. I like vanilla ice cream on the plate.
What was your best birthday experience?
I think the 100th was great. I like it because so many students came. That’s what I wanted.