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Jamestown Sun - September 11, 2018

Expanding St. John's


Marlys Gallagher, Alumna and Parishioner 

Dear Friends of St. John's Academy,

I cannot imagine my life without a foundation in Catholic education. As a student at St. John’s Academy, I remember feeling a closeness to my classmates because of our shared relationship with God. I always felt cared for and safe at the school. I learned the value of helping others through penny drives and community service events and developed life-long friendships. As a grandparent of current students, St. John’s Academy continues these traditions and values. To this day, the small class sizes and shared faith foster close friendships. Similarly, the Sisters from my time at the school are gone, but a group of devoted teachers have inherited their dedication, enthusiasm, and love of learning. 

Right now, we have an opportunity to ensure that a Catholic education continues to be available in Jamestown for future generations. Renovating the existing building will allow us to build amenities that are designed for students at this age-level and to enhance classrooms for modern education. The plans also include positive new features. Personally, I think the new chapel will be a great addition. I have many fond memories of masses and retreats at the chapel in the demolished convent. With the new chapel, children will be able to experience weekly mass and priest visits in the same kind of spiritual setting that I enjoyed as a student. Additionally, a bright, open cafeteria for children to eat and socialize is badly needed. Overall, I believe this project will create a more inviting school for students, families, and the entire community.

St. John’s Academy has been a significant landmark in Jamestown for more than 125 years.  I believe the school should continue to serve the children of our community for the next century. Please join me in investing in this important institution.

Marlys Gallagher
Campaign Honorary Chair


Ben and Brenda Kirkeby Family, School Parents and Parishioners

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

As parents, we chose to enroll our students at St. John’s Academy because we wanted them to have a good education in a Catholic-Christian atmosphere. St. John’s Academy has provided a nurturing environment since our kids began childcare. They are now in the 6th and the 8th grades. Time flies! 

While we believe that teaching great values starts at home, we also wanted our beliefs to be built upon and reinforced during the 7+ hours per day our kids spend in school. Faith education at St. John’s opens doors and prompts conversation within our family about faith and God.  We love that at the Academy there is a consistent message from people our kids know, love, and trust, such as parents, teachers, priests, and administrators.

Today, we are really excited about the renovation and expansion of the school. In particular, we believe that the new chapel at the heart of the school will be a great way to keep God literally present, front, and center in the children’s daily lives.

We feel as though God called us to provide for future generations by participating in A Campaign for St. John’s Academy.  Although our kids will not see this come to fruition while attending the school, we are passionate about helping provide a state-of-the-art facility for others.  As parishioners or school families, each of us is benefiting from what others sacrificed and provided years ago.  We believe it is our turn to contribute to something beyond our own immediate needs and desires and build something great for the next generation.

Ben and Brenda Kirkeby
Campaign Volunteers


Thomas Rulon and M. Joyce Rulon

Dear Parishioners,

I was born in Jamestown, ND in 1930, the third child of Arthur and Therese Rulon. My father served as Treasurer of St. James for over 40 years, the chairman of the Catholic cemetery, and was an active member of the Knights of Columbus until his death. My mother was the chairwoman of the Altar Society, which maintained the sanctuary of the church. Our home was located only a half block south of St. James Catholic Church, and I attended St. John’s Academy from 1936 to 1944, after which I transferred to Jamestown High School.

The combination of being raised in a devout, sincere Catholic home and attending St. John’s Academy in my formative educational years has had a profound influence on my life. This early experience greatly assisted me in my personal career achievements to the present. Recently, my wife, Joyce, and I gave funding to acquire and upgrade the computers for the students at SJA and plan to assist in future digital needs.

Although I have not lived in Jamestown since 1951, I continue to remain in touch with my home city in many ways, including through St. James Basilica and the Academy. I am very excited that this campaign will assure the future of both institutions for many more years, not only for the Catholic families, but for the entire Jamestown community.

I made the very easy choice to support A Campaign for St. John’s Academy, PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE. because of my sincere belief in Catholic education, my close relationship with my hometown, and in memory of my dear parents. I trust that the parish and the community as a whole will participate in this most worthy endeavor.

Thomas Rulon, MD, CM and M. Joyce Rulon


Marie Boyle

Dear Parishioners of St. James Basilica,

My late husband, Donald, and I did not have any kids. So, when I look around the Church, I see the children in the pews and the students of St. John’s Academy as my children – they are God’s children. Which is why, over the last decade, the school has become an important part of our philanthropic wishes.

St. John’s Academy is a place where young people can connect with God and with one another. They create a sense of Christian community and can go out into our world to be a witness to faith.

I believe that being generous and giving back are an important part of my spiritual life. We are all called to evangelize and to pass our faith on to the next generation. As parishioners, there is no greater investment we can make in the future of our church than in the education of our children through both our Catholic schools and Faith Formation programs.

I am happy to be a part of this historic project for the future of St. John’s Academy and I hope others will be inspired to join this effort to preserve the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph to inspire and educate the children of Jamestown. 

Marie Boyle


Mark and Melanie Anderson Family

“A triangle is the strongest shape because any added force is evenly spread through all three sides."  We see it every day in our three branches of government.  We feel it everyday in our Faith through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The foundation of the Anderson Family triangle is built from our Domestic Church, the St. James Parish Community, and St. John's Academy.   Without the never-failing support from SJA - staff, kids, families; well, frankly, we can't imagine the last twelve years without it!

We have tried to describe all of the benefits and blessings we have received being a part of SJA - and failed.  Words cannot describe all of them - actions can.  That is why we have committed a gift to A Campaign for St. John’s Academy. PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE. on behalf of our kids, hopefully someday our grandchildren, and the future of our whole Christian Family!

God Bless!

Mark & Melanie Anderson
Parents and Parishioners


Brady Althoff, SJA Student

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Brady collected $160.34 in birthday money that was donated to the St. John’s Academy building fund.

Thank you for this selfless gift and putting the school needs before your own pleasures.

Keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said,
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Act 20:35


Pam and Jerome Szarkowski 

We are strong supporters of St. John’s Academy and we currently have four granddaughters attending the Academy. The proposed building upgrades are sorely needed and, if implemented, would position SJA to serve our grandchildren and all of kids in our community for the next 125 years. We are glad to be supporting A Campaign for St. John’s Academy. PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE. and believe in this project for many reasons.

Firstly, the merits of private, Catholic schooling are well-documented. At the Academy, students receive individual attention and are instilled with work ethic and respect. The result is that these become life-long virtues for our children.

Secondly, we all have a duty to spread the “Good News.” Jesus says in John 16:9 – “The world’s sin is unbelief in me,” and he calls on all of us to be disciples. A world employing Christ’s teachings is a world without conflict.

Lastly, perhaps our biggest reason for supporting this historic effort, is that the Szarkowski family pioneered in the Fried area, which in the late 1800’s was a strong Polish migrant region. In fact, they built a Catholic school in Fried, which shortly after it opened was destroyed by a fire. Rather than rebuild, the brick was salvaged and transported to Jamestown to be repurposed for the construction of St. John’s Academy. It can be said that my forefathers supported the school even before it was built. We want to continue to be part of that legacy and ensure that we do not “drop the ball” for future generations.

Pam and Jerry Szarkowski
School Grandparents


Jim Engels, Business Manager

Raising money is never easy.  No one enjoys asking others for money. Coupled with that, sharing and giving are things that are difficult for most of us human beings.   As you may have noticed, we are in the middle of a capital campaign to raise funds to remodel our existing building and add additional needed space at St. John’s Academy.  We need $7.5 million dollars for this project.   We have raised just over $4.5 million so far.  We need $3 million more.

As we approached former campaigns during my work here at St. James, I must admit I was just a bit pessimistic about our chances for each project. For the Zebedee Center addition ($1.5 Million) which included the new gym, faith formation offices, and youth ministry room at SJA, I asked  “How will we ever be able to pay for it?”  More recently, the funds necessary to build the Community Room addition and new Priest’s residence ($1.67 million) looked difficult to reach.

In every instance, I’m happy to admit that I was dead wrong.  I was proven wrong by your faith filled response to God’s call to stewardship.  He does great things through us, the faithful.  He helps us create spaces that work to build the Kingdom of God.  Educational spaces for our children.  Comfortable spaces to worship.   Educational spaces for adults to learn more about our faith and to share our faith with others.  Faith sharing spaces for all of us.

If the past is any predictor of the future, I will be wrong again.   In the end we will have beautiful new and remodeled classrooms for our faith formation and St. John’s Academy students.  We will have a new chapel and a new kitchen and commons area. We will have a top-notch facility for now and well into the future.   Your faithful stewardship, with God’s help, will make it happen.