Remember Sister Jean, the then 98-year-old Chicago nun who gained international fame during Loyola University’s men’s basketball team’s journey to the N.C.A.A. Final Four in 2018? She’s got a new book out.
Yep, at the age of 103 that sister is still captivating the world with her infectious smile, love of basketball, and approach to life.
Reading her book feels akin to having her sit in your living room reminiscing about her life. What’s her secret to living such a long and fulfilling life?
The title says it all: Wake Up With Purpose! What I’ve Learned in My first Hundred Years.
You can’t help but become completely engrossed with her story, from her humble beginnings with her sports-loving family in California to becoming a sister and teacher—and a whole host of other things—to being assigned Chaplain for the Loyola men’s basketball team in 1994.
Sister Jean knew from the third grade that she wanted to be a nun just like her teacher, Sister Mary Patrize, the one everyone loved.
Sister Jean writes, “I knew my dream was the right dream for me. All I had to do was put together my plan and work hard to follow it, and I would be on my way.”
And that is exactly how Sister Jean approaches everything she does in life, through her many teaching and administrative positions, coaching sports, tutoring, and so many other duties and jobs (it will make your head spin), she always makes a plan, takes action, and is persistent.
Her superpower, she proudly proclaims, is: ADAPTABILITY.
What I appreciate most in the book is that she doesn’t shy away from addressing controversial issues, everything from diversity, equity, and inclusion, to reproductive rights, telling the truth, and global warming. It’s like having a conversation with someone who is practical, down to earth, well-informed, funny, and devoted to her faith.
I’m recommending this book to my own adult kids, especially my sports-loving son who I know will get a kick out of Sister Jean’s work with the Loyola men’s basketball team.
In addition to offering encouragement and academic support, Sister Jean regularly sends scouting reports to the coach—she knows her basketball–and offers strategy tips in her pre-game prayer to the team:
“Good and gracious God, yes, we want to win tonight, and we know that with Your help we can do it. But we understand we must play as a team…We plan to share the ball, direct it to the team member who is ‘hot’ tonight…Jeff, be careful of number 5. He looked good in the warmup time. Keep number 7 from the perimeter…Amen”
These days she’s on the court in her wheel chair at the end of a game to receive lots of sweaty hugs from the guys she loves, her beloved Ramblers.
She lives at The Clare in Chicago. I wish they would hire me there to do one of my shows. I’d sure like to meet her!!