By: Sierra Sass (Loyola Sophomore)
After living 104 incredible years including being inducted into the Ramblers’ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017, receiving the Sword of Loyola, the university’s highest honor in 2018, and the author of a bestselling memoir in 2023, how could anyone define their legacy?
I recently had the pleasure of sitting with Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BMV, to discuss her impact on the Loyola community.
She grew up in San Francisco, California, and now resides in Chicago where she works officially as a Chaplain at Loyola for the Men’s basketball team, providing spiritual guidance and religious services to players and coaches. But if you ask anyone at Loyola who Sister Jean is, they will know she’s the University’s celebrity.
Sister Jean gained national recognition in 2018 when the Loyola Men’s basketball team made a deep run in March Madness to the Final Four. She became “America’s sweetheart” with her beaming energy, witty personality, and genuine unwavering support for the Loyola Men’s basketball team.
Though many know her in this light, it’s important to understand the journey which brought her to where she is today. One significant moment occurred when she professed her final vows as a BMV (Blessed Virgin Mary). She also has held many honorable titles in her life including the Dean of Mundelein College, Associate Dean and Director of Summer Sessions, Director of Coffey Hall, Associate VP for academic affairs, and academic advisor.
Sister Jean has had many accomplishments to be proud of, but who she is and what she means to others triumphs over them all.
*The interview has been edited for length and clarity
RodgersEdge Reporter: You are undoubtedly many people’s role model and many people’s mentor, but who is your role model and mentor, and how did they shape your journey?
Sister Jean: I just say “myself” because I’m myself, and people want me to be honest with them. I think that’s why people appreciate me. They want me to tell them what I believe, and I do that; I think I do that well. I appreciate people saying I’m a role model; it hasn’t changed my life. I just do the same things.
RER: What advice did you receive from your family that has impacted you?
Sister Jean: Oh, having two brothers, you know, you get advice all the time. It doesn’t make any difference how young you are or how old you are. They were great advisors, and they were fun to live with. My family always encouraged me when I said I wanted to be a sister, and never did my mom or dad say no. You know, they made it easy for me.
RER: On the lighter side of questions, I’ve got to know what is the most annoying thing about being the most famous person at Loyola?
Sister Jean: Well, I don’t find anything annoying. No, I enjoy it, and when first-year students come in and say, “Oh, Sister Jean, we heard you’re the queen of selfies. Can we take a selfie?” and no matter where I go, they stop and say, “Can I have a picture now?” and of course, they can. Whatever brings happiness and good, I would do for Loyola.
RER: Are there any specific values, principles, or beliefs that have guided your actions and decisions throughout your life? If so, have you seen them impact your legacy?
Sister Jean: I have to talk about sports; people who are in athletics play as a team, and that’s a life skill. Because that is what family, school, and life are all about being a team member.
RER: How would you like to be remembered by future and current Loyola students? What do you want your legacy at this university to be?
Sister Jean: Well, I want it to be that I was a loving and caring person who always tried to help students or the faculty as a chaplain. Being a chaplain has allowed me to be close to the basketball team and have much fun with them. We pray together before every game in the Norville [Loyola’s athletic facility] concourse, and I bless their hands before they go on the court. I pray with all the fans in the arena, and the team receives emails from me after the game. So, when I think about it, right now, I am 104, and I don’t know how many more years there will be. I hope people remember me as a caring person willing to listen, which is essential.
For a timeline and more information on Sister Jean, please visit: LUC Features