Sister Jean: Wake Up With Purpose!

Recently on Relevant Radio®, John Morales had the privilege of welcoming Sister Jean, BVM, of Loyola University onto Morning Air to talk about her March Madness experience and her new memoir Wake Up with Purpose! What I’ve Learned in My First Hundred Years.

Although Loyola didn’t make it to “The Big Dance” this year, and it’s been five years since Loyola’s big run in the 2018 NCAA tournament, Sister Jean said she remembers it all. She recalled the whole experience as being surreal, waking up to reporters in her hotel lobby wanting to talk about Loyola’s Cinderella story.

And what a story it was. With an 11th-seed berth, Loyola was an underdog in the tournament to be sure. Since the implementation of the 64-team bracket, there are only four teams in NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball history that have ever won the tournament outside of the top 3 seeds. Furthermore, there were only three No. 11 seed teams to ever make it to the Final Four as the Loyola Ramblers did in 2018.

On their way to the four wins they accrued that postseason, Sister Jean said she vividly remembers the plays that helped them reach that height, including the long, go-ahead 3-pointer from Donte Ingram with 0.3 seconds to go against Miami in the first round. And then next round against Tennesee, Clayton Custer did his best impression of Ingram by hitting a mid-range jumpshot on the move to put the Ramblers up by 1 with 3.6 seconds to go.

To be sure, the 2018 season was full of memories that will last a lifetime, and what a life Sister Jean has had! She is 103 years old, so she’s old enough to remember each and every time Loyola made it to the tournament (1963, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1985, 2018, 2021, 2022).

Given her age and her long-standing position as the chaplain of the Loyola Ramblers, John asked her what took her so long to write and release her memoirs (Feb. 2023). And to be blunt, Sister said she just never had the time. However, after much prodding from different publishers, and a right-hand sportswriter at her side in Seth Davis, she finally acquiesced. Seth paid her many visits at Loyola, and he would have her just sit and talk for hours while he wrote everything down. Finally, after five years of writing and editing, the book has been published.

John asked Sister Jean, now that the book is out, what are the greatest lessons she would impart to the young students around her and the young people around the world if they want to lead fulfilling lives.

Sister began by saying that everybody should make room for quiet time. Exciting events, loud music, and being on the go is a part of life, but without quiet time, it’s easy to lose sight of yourself. You have no time to think or pray. Secondly, Sister Jean said that everybody should set goals. You’ll never reach your goals if you don’t at first set them. Goals provide direction, purpose, and framework for our actions.

She continued, saying that people growing up ought to be sure that their values are in order. Without moral standards or priorities in what you value, you’ll never grow up, no matter how long you live. Living by your values is what defines your character. And lastly, Sister Jean imparted to listeners that we should care about the way that we dress, present, and conduct ourselves for other people to see. Regardless of the apathetic outlook the culture takes to self-presentation, our appearance speaks to the way we see ourselves, and we should always see ourselves with value and dignity: as children of God.

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.