I recently had a trip to Lander, Wyoming to visit Wyoming Catholic College and speak to the faculty and student body. I am overdue in my review of the trip.
First, I must say that the kids who can go to WCC are very fortunate.
If you have children approaching college age and don’t know where they should go, consider WCC… if you can get them in.
The land is beautiful, the faculty are dedicated, the vision for their education is clear, the identity is Catholic.
They have the kids learning how to learn through a modified program of the trivium et quadrivium. A former long-time student of Fr. Reginald Foster and acquaintance of mine of years past left a tenured position at an Eastern university to move to Wyoming and teach Latin.
The kids are speaking Latin in their classes and even bantering a bit outside classes.
Latin is common feature of daily life, even in the dining hall.
They are not immersed, but they are doing everyday things with the Latin language.
The students I met smile. They walk up to you, smile, and introduce themselves by name, and where they are from, and what year of studies they are in. They like it when you speak Latin to them and are ready to engage.
They don’t have distractions, either. The technology policy at the college permits no mobile phones. Students may have personal computers for writing, but without an internet connection. They can consult the internet on a college computer.
While I was there I heard story after story about how divine providence is at work to build this school. Astonishing "coincidences" brought faculty to the place at exactly the right time, as well as funding to keep the place growing. The former and present bishops love the place. They have good chaplains who provide the Novus Ordo in Latin and the TLM on a regular basis.
They asked me to sing a TLM: Missa cantata. Their choir was very good, the Gregorian chant schola strong. The whole student body sang the Ordinary in Gregorian chant: Missa Orbis factor… Mass XI.
In the "small world" meetings, their sacristan used to serve Mass for me when I lived in California, along with that young man who left the A’s to pursue the priesthood. A young lady with a Minnesota sweatshirt was from my home parish in St. Paul.
After my talk another young lady came up to me and told me that years ago I gave her First Holy Communion. Several of the faculty had friends in common with me.
Though right now they are in temporary digs in Lander itself, I had the chance to see where they are going to build their new campus. It will be situated in a valley near Lander. The campus will include a stable for the students’ horses. All students are required to learn to ride.
There are lots of outdoor activities which are meant to harmonize their academics. When they first arrive, they have – if I remember correctly – a three week camping trip guided by pros. They hike and ride and have stargazing trips.
Quite a few of the students have firearms. The gun safe is minded by the college’s chaplain! So… the students get their guns from the priest and practice shooting. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
Here are some photos of their plans and location.
If you go to Lander to visit the school, there is a fine B&B nearby in a beautiful house owned by people who moved to the town so that they could be near the school. In the far corner they have established a small but well-stocked GK Chesterton reading room.
I stayed at this B&B while there. Simply wonderful.
Furthermore, I was stunned to find an exceptional restaurant in Lander that reminded me strongly of places I have eaten at in places like New York… except the beef was far far better.
Models of the new campus.
I found the descriptions of the academic program to be very intriguing. In addition to the Latin, the students are learning classical rhetoric. They must learn to present a thesis style treatment of a question, stand up in front of people, and defend their position. The faculty bring in outsiders, lawyers, businessmen, etc., to give feedback on the presentation.
Look at the reading list!
A telling dimension of the quality of the school is found in the waiting list to get in and the fact that they haven’t lost any students. A few students did leave for one reason or another, but every one of them came back and re-enrolled.
And to top it off, the tuition didn’t sound all that bad, around $23K per year, which includes room and board.
I wished I had had a couple more days there to see what was going on in depth. But I saw enough to know that parents with kids approaching college age should seriously think about Wyoming Catholic College.
God seems to be blessing this project.