The Rev. Mark Bosco usually spends about five minutes on Facebook a day. Not lately. These days, he’s glued to it.
“Because I’ve got all my colleagues at Loyola University, I’ve got friends sending me messages,” Bosco said. “I’m looking at all the new films that are out on Sister Jean on Facebook. I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m kind of addicted to this right now.”
Bosco is vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University, but in a previous life, not all that long ago, he was at Loyola University Chicago, home to the Ramblers, darlings of the NCAA Tournament. On Saturday, Loyola Chicago will meet Michigan in the Final Four, and while he is no longer at the school, Bosco still finds himself delighting in the Ramblers’ rise from the outside.
Sure, sure. This is certainly not the first time a Jesuit school has made a deep run in the tournament. Just last year, Gonzaga beat Xavier to advance to the Final Four, with Gonzaga later falling to North Carolina in the national championship game.
But here is Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, the 98-year-old nun who has been crushing her postgame interviews. And here is Coach Porter Moser, a product of a Jesuit institution, a “Catholic kid from Chicago.” So as one-shining-moments go, this seems like a pretty solid one for Jesuit schools.
“All of our schools are really very supportive of each other when it comes to good sportsmanship and rooting on,” said Deanna Howes Spiro, spokeswoman for the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. “Everyone’s really excited to see Loyola Chicago be on this national stage.”
Bosco — who spoke eloquently of the spirituality and camaraderie that can be found in team sports — spent more than a decade at Loyola Chicago before coming to Georgetown, and said it has been exciting to see the Ramblers shine. At Jesuit colleges and universities across the country, he said, other members of the community were pretty jazzed about it, too.
“Except maybe one Jesuit,” Bosco said. “And that’s the Jesuit who is a friend of mine, who is doing a doctorate at Michigan.”
Actually, that person would be traveling to the Final Four in San Antonio, according to Bosco.
“I am hoping that secretly, in his heart of hearts, he’s still going toward Loyola,” Bosco said.
About that . . .
“Oh my gosh,” said that man, the Rev. Michael Rozier. “The run that the team has made since the middle of February has been unbelievable. They’re just playing their best basketball. And it’s fun to be a part of it.”
Rozier is a doctoral student in health management and policy at Michigan. He’s also a member of the Jesuit order, and a campus minister at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor.
“I knew that my loyalties would be quite torn in the first round of the Final Four,” he said. “I love Michigan. But obviously I have a strong love for any of our Jesuit schools as well. So my first thought — the positive thought was, ‘Wow, I get to win, either way.’ And of course, the negative thought was, ‘Wow, I get to lose, either way.’ ”
Rozier said he planned to be in Texas for the Final Four, though to be clear: He is not some sort of University of Michigan version of Sister Jean. Still, he’s amped about all of this. He went to the Big Ten tournament. He traveled to Kansas for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I actually drove 14 hours to Wichita and back, to be there for the first-round games,” he said. “To get to go to San Antonio is wonderful.”
Rozier — who praised Loyola Chicago, calling the Ramblers well-coached, disciplined and “unselfish with the ball” — pointed out that Michigan’s coach, John Beilein, is an alumnus of a Jesuit institution.
“And so, while I totally appreciate all of the Jesuit love that is being sent toward Loyola, the Michigan connection to the Jesuits is also a lot stronger than people often realize,” he said.
Beilein graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia. The Rev. Michael Steltenkamp is a professor of theology at that school, and a member of the Jesuit order. He has ties to both the state of Michigan and to Loyola Chicago, where he was a visiting professor. So it is possible, that among those in the Jesuit order, Steltenkamp might be the most conflicted Saturday.
“In a way, that’s true,” he said. “I’m a big basketball fan, and go to all our games here. We have a good basketball team here, at the Division II level. Of course, our place is John Beilein’s alma mater. The thing is this, John is about the finest man you’d want to meet. . . . How can you not be for that sort of guy?”
On the other hand, how could you not cheer for underdog Loyola Chicago, Steltenkamp said.
“So what the heck,” he said. “Flip-a-coin kinda thing is how I feel on the topic.”
From his perspective, Steltenkamp said, he can’t really lose. The bigger picture, he said, is that Jesuit education was being “beautifully represented” by Sister Jean and her Ramblers, and by Beilein at Michigan.
“Our communal hope is these two institutions that are facing one another will simply call people’s attention to a marvelous private educational system that exists nationwide,” Steltenkamp said. “From Georgetown in D.C. and Boston College and Fairfield, those are all Jesuit schools on the East Coast. To the University of San Francisco . . . and Seattle, and Santa Clara, all Jesuit schools. And a bunch in between. Even little Wheeling Jesuit.”