This Magic Moment

Truth be told, magic acts had always left me a little cold.  I was unwilling to buy into all the “abracadabra” and “presto chango” nonsense.  And that whole pulling-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat shtick seemed ripe for a PETA intervention.  That was until I saw Jared Sherlock ’11 in action.

Jared — a classically-trained illusionist — launched his career on Christmas Eve 1997 at the ripe old age of eight.  During his high school years, he perfected his craft and began to produce and star in large-scale productions in his home town of Carmel, Indiana.  Much to his parents’ delight (his father, Russ ’83, is a proud Johnnie alum), Jared made his way to Collegeville in 2007 and blazed his unique trail with an individualized major in theatre and entrepreneurial studies.

Never afraid to dream big, Jared presented the first student-created performance ever offered in the history of the schools’ professional Fine Arts Programming Series.  After nearly two years of persuading, planning, auditioning and rehearsing, Jared and his talented student cast performed a high-energy, Vegas-style show — Night Games:  An Evening of Illusions — for two sold-out Benedicta Arts Center audiences in January 2010.  Rather than bankrolling the shows’ proceeds, Jared chose to donate all his profits to support the retirement care facilities at both Saint John’s Abbey and Saint Benedict’s Monastery.  When interviewed by The Record shortly thereafter, Jared shared this:  “There is nothing more rewarding than using your gifts and talents to change the lives of others…it is the ultimate reward.”

Since graduating in May 2011, Jared has continued to give generously of his time, talent and treasure.  The profits from his Summer 2011 national tour benefitted several non-profit organizations.  He regularly donates performances for fundraising events; performs at hospitals and nursing homes; and makes an annual gift to the Saint John’s Student Fund as a member of the Young Fellows Society (recognizing benefactors from the most recent ten graduating classes who contribute $500 to $999 annually).

Jared’s generous spirit is no sleight of hand.  His parents have played a huge role in helping shape his philanthropic mindset.

Not long ago, I approached Russ and Tina with a proposal to provide a leadership-level gift in support of one of the most critical priorities at the University — the long overdue renovation of the Alcuin Library and construction of an adjacent Learning Commons.  With Houdini-like speed, the Sherlocks responded positively by making a significant pledge, with Tina adding: “If you build it, they will fund…that’s the great thing about the SJU family!  We are so glad we are able to help.”

The size of the Sherlocks’ gift gave them the opportunity to dedicate one of the facility’s main spaces.  They chose the Learning Commons Terrace — an open-air balcony offering a dramatic view of the Abbey & University Church and Lake Sagatagan — destined to become a popular gathering space for SJU and CSB students.  Russ hinted that sponsoring an exterior space was most appropriate, given his somewhat limited experience as a student with the interior of the library!

And the Sherlock’s generosity did not stop there.  A second significant pledge of equal value was made to establish a new endowed scholarship, which will support students majoring in the fine arts.  Once fully funded, the endowment will provide roughly $25,000 in scholarships each and every year.  Russ noted that this fund will allow future generations of fine arts students to follow their dreams and passions, just as Jared was able to do.  “It truly is better to give than to receive, “ noted Russ, “and I love that we can give back to a community that gave our family so much.”

And that fine family continues to grow.  Jared and one of his fellow Night Games performers, Olivia Plaine ’11, will wed on September 24.  We wish them a lifetime of happiness and magic.