Hello everyone! It’s back to school time, nearing the end of Summer and we are about to hit a holiday weekend. I don’t know about you, but typically this is where I (and many of you I am sure) start to “hit the wall” mentally and physically. This seems like the perfect time for a reminder on what really matters and how to live a less stressful, more fulfilling life day to day. This month’s newsletter is a reprint from an article last week in USA Today on a now-famous nun who exemplifies this perfectly. Sister Jean rocks! And through the words shared in this article straight from her own, maybe we all can drop our stress level, smile more and have more fun and joy.
A LABOR DAY MESSAGE FOR US ALL
(The following is a reprint of an article from columnist Nancy Armour – USA Today, Aug. 21, 2019)
It’s all in the attitude.
Good genes help, too. But when Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt was asked – several times, in several ways – for the secret to her longevity as she celebrated her 100th birthday Wednesday, Loyola-Chicago’s most famous fan kept coming back to one word.
“I try and look upon the joy I find in everyone,” Sister Jean said, a sparkle in her eyes and a smile stretching across her face. “Joy is so important. Sometimes you’re going to have sad days, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our joy. You can still have that.”
A 100th birthday is a momentous occasion for anyone. But when you are Sister Jean, Loyola’s team chaplain and its most beloved fan, the celebration isn’t just for you. It’s for everyone who’s come in contact with Sister Jean, in person or through Loyola basketball, a chance to once again feel the simple joy – there’s that word again – that endeared her to them in the first place.
It’s why Loyola pulled out all the stops Wednesday afternoon, from a massive cake to T-shirts and buttons commemorating the day. It’s why several hundred students and staffers crowded into the lobby of the Student Center, the crowd so big extra chairs were brought in and some staked out places along the edge of a staircase overlooking the stage so they could get a better view.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker came, praising the impact she’s had and declaring Wednesday to be “Sister Jean Day” all across the state. Loyola’s president announced that an alum had donated $250,000 for an endowed scholarship fund in Sister Jean’s name, a sum the university has already agreed to match.
In a birthday tribute video by some of college basketball’s biggest names, Charles Barkley might have said it best:
“To be able to wish you a happy 100th birthday is really cool,” Barkley said. “You’re an amazing lady, special and significant.”
It didn’t matter if you’d had a long attachment to Loyola or had never heard of the Jesuit school on Chicago’s north side before the men’s NCAA basketball tournament two years ago, people all over the world were captivated by Sister Jean. When she held a news conference at the Final Four, done because Loyola had been inundated with interview requests for her, the room was filled to capacity.
“I thought it was going to be five or six people in the room,” Sister Jean said Wednesday. “Before we started, the moderator said, ‘This is more than Tom Brady had.’ Wow. Comparing me to Tom Brady.”
Part of the fascination with Sister Jean is her age and spunk, sure; she’s more sharp now than some people half her age, and she continues to send Loyola coach Porter Moser and his players her scouting reports. Sister Jean also thinks she’s something of a curiosity, as far from the dour image of a nun as you can get in her ever-present maroon-and-gold striped scarf and custom-made Nikes.
There’s something more, though, a simplicity and pureness of heart too rarely seen anymore. When she talks of praying for everyone she’s encountered in life – “I can’t pray for you all by name otherwise my knees would get too sore” – you know she means it, and it makes you feel a little better.
“You continue to bring light upon others,” said Donte Ingram, a starter on the Final Four team. “Me and everybody else are very appreciative of that.”
There’s a calm to Sister Jean, too, a gentle reminder to slow down and appreciate what’s around you. She might not have a lot of money or flashy possessions, but she’s happy with her life and, with the wisdom of 100 years, she can assure you that that’s more valuable than anything.
“In order to have an impact on people, we have to be happy ourselves,” she said. “Just be happy, be yourself. As I told the freshmen today, you have to be yourself. You can’t be anybody else.”
Sister Jean turned 100 on Wednesday, and her continued presence is a gift to us all.