103-year-old ‘basketball nun’ Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt releases memoir


Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM. / Credit: Harper Horizon & Harper Select

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 18, 2023 / 08:00 am (CNA).

At 103 years old, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is known by most as simply “Sister Jean” or the “basketball nun.”

With the motto “worship, work, win,” Schmidt has long been a student favorite at Loyola University of Chicago because of her kind nature and enthusiastic love of basketball.

Now, with the help of sportswriter Seth Davis, she’s publishing her memoir, titled “Wake Up with Purpose: What I’ve Learned in My First Hundred Years” (Harper Select, 2023).

Set to be released on Feb. 28, Schmidt’s memoir will share some of the lessons and wisdom she’s accumulated in her 103 years of life. Harper Select calls Schmidt’s memoir “part life story, part philosophy text, and part spiritual guide.”

As chaplain of the Loyola University’s men’s basketball team, the Ramblers, Schmidt earned legendary status when her beloved team advanced to the Final Four in 2018.

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt at the first round game of the NCAA Tournament in Dallas, TX., on Thursday, March 15, 2018. . Lukas Keapproth/Loyola University Chicago.
Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt at the first round game of the NCAA Tournament in Dallas, TX., on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Lukas Keapproth/Loyola University Chicago.

Born in 1919, Schmidt says she first felt called by God to be a nun when she was inspired by her third-grade teacher, a Sister of Charity.

In her memoir, Schmidt writes that she would pray every day: “Dear God, help me understand what I should do, but please tell me I should become a BVM sister.”

Living through the Great Depression and World War II, Schmidt devoted her entire adult life to the ministry of teaching.

In 1994 she was made the Ramblers basketball team chaplain. In her memoir, Schmidt calls her role as chaplain “the most transformational and transcendent position” of her life.

“Sports are very important because they help develop life skills,” Schmidt said, according to the Associated Press. “And during those life skills, you’re also talking about faith and purpose.”

To this day students and faculty alike are amazed by Schmidt’s energy and devotion to both basketball and her students.

“Her consistency is incredible,” Ramblers senior forward Tom Welch, 22, told the AP. “She does it every day, every game. She brings the same energy to our pregame prayers.”

“Wisdom can be hard to come by these days, but I can think of no one who carries more of it than Sister Jean,” said Matt Baugher of Harper Select.

“I’ve seen so many changes in the last 103 years, but the important things remain the same,” said Schmidt, speaking of her soon-to-be-released memoir. “I wanted to recount the story of my life for people, not because I feel that I am so special or my life has been so extraordinary, but rather as a way to give people hope and optimism that once they find their purpose, they can go through life with joy and fulfillment.”

“Wake Up with Purpose!” is available for preorder now.

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