Even as Loyola University Chicago beloved superfan Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt was being celebrated for turning 100, she was imparting wisdom to the students, administrators, friends and family who gathered at the campus to wish her happy birthday.
"I think of this when I'm going to sleep at night -- and it doesn't take me long to get there, I'll tell you -- I think of all these wonderful things that happened to me during the day and I also think of St. Ignatius when I do that because he wanted us to review our day and I think he wanted us to think not only about where we didn't do well and where we could improve, but he also wanted us to think about the good we've done for people," she said during her celebration Wednesday. "That's what I like to do about myself. ... Then I go to sleep very peacefully. Wake up with joy in my heart..
"I think that's a good recipe to follow. So if you have a hard time going to sleep or whatever, just kind of think of yourself and give yourself those pats on the back. Some days are hard but remember the problem will be there tomorrow too, so you don't want to wake up to it too soon," she said before laughing.
Famously known as "Sister Jean," the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary nun is the chaplain for the university's basketball team and a former academic adviser. She's watched more than a half-century of the team's basketball history.
“”If you have a hard time going to sleep or whatever, just kind of think of yourself and give yourself those pats on the back.
Already beloved by students and her athletes, Sister Jean gained media and U.S. attention in 2018, when the Ramblers played in the NCAA tournament, reaching the Final Four against Michigan.
"She's kind of like the unofficial mascot of Loyola," Maddie Drescher told ABC Chicago station WLS-TV on Wednesday. "She just kind of symbolizes all of what Loyola is about. It's about community. It's about coming together like we did for the Final Four. ... Her sense of humor is fantastic too."
On Wednesday, Loyola University Chicago held a campus celebration for the nun that featured priests, NCAA coaches, former Ramblers players, former NBA player Charles Barkley and even Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey, as well as Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who proudly showed off his Sister Jean bobble-head doll.
On Twitter, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary posted a video of the nuns singing to Sister Jean.
And, on Tuesday, the eve of her 100th birthday, Sister Jean shared with WLS-TV the one box she hoped to check off in her next year of life: to walk again.
"I'm not walking right now from my hip replacement (and) my shingles so I want to walk again," Sister Jean said. "That's my big wish."
At her party Wednesday, Sister Jean was all smiles, decked out in a scarf bearing the colors of her beloved basketball team, and full of appreciation for everyone who'd taken the time out to recognize this moment in her life. Before she blew out the candles on her cake, she was serenaded with "Happy Birthday."
"Thank you and God bless every one of you -- and go Ramblers!" Sister Jean said.