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102 Years Young: Sister Jean Welcomes Students Back to Campus

Courtesy of Bill BehrnsLoyola Men's Basketball team joins Sister Jean for a pre-game prayer.

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, BVM, has spent every day of the past two weeks celebrating her 102nd birthday.

The mens’ basketball team’s chaplain and international superstar has spent recent weeks going out to dinners with friends, celebrating with Loyola faculty and team members and reading lots of birthday notes from the Loyola community.

Some of the highlights of Sister Jean’s birthday celebrations were celebrating at Loyla’s golf outing with team members and coaches. They celebrated with cake and sang happy birthday. She was also thrown a party at The Clare, and she attended a picnic after Mass on Aug. 29. 

“When you’re over 100 you get your own party,” Sister Jean said. “When you get to be my age you get to know a lot of people.”

One of the main ways Sister Jean stays healthy at her age is always staying positive, she said.

As Loyola’s campuses fully reopen, Sister Jean said she’s leaving partying behind and instead planning to camp out in her office every day ready to meet students.

“I missed everybody so much because of how long we were all in isolation,” Sister Jean said. “When I went back on campus and saw so many people I thought this is the way Loyola is supposed to be.” 

Last year, when COVID-19 infections were at a peak, Sister Jean continued to hold telephone conversations with the men’s basketball team. She also sent out a number of emails and had phone and Zoom conversations with students to make sure she kept in touch with the Loyola student body during those times.

“Loyola made the online situation the very best that they could,” Sister Jean said. “Teachers and instructors kept classes as entertaining as they could.”

Along with staying in touch with the student body throughout last year, Sister Jean also traveled to the Sweet Sixteen March Madness Championship with the men’s basketball team, the Phoenix reported.

The incoming first-year class is one of the biggest classes Loyola has ever had, the Phoenix reported. Sister Jean empathized with the large group of first and second year students beginning in-person classes for the first time. 

“My biggest piece of advice to freshmen and sophomores is if you have a problem don’t try to solve it by yourself,” Sister Jean said. “Loyola has so many different resources to help students and students can always pop into my office and talk to me about anything. Everyone needs help so don’t try to do it all by yourself.”

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