The True Importance of Our New Building

“The essence of a school is a faculty. In a society like ours [most] think first of buildings, principals, students and then of ‘staff’ (teachers as the work force). But schools (as in ‘schools of thought’) are groups of friends at leisure, apart from business, given over to the free exercise of their rationality.” — John Senior

Divine Providence recently blessed our college with the acquisition of a new building to help provide classroom and study space for our expanding student body. The building is in good condition and in all aspects feels like an academic space; a place of study, quiet concentration and intellectual labor. As happy as I am for this new possession, it also reminded me of something important: a new building does not cause learning. A new building won’t make our students wise. In terms of our education, such accidental things as walls, roofs and electric lights support the growth of the human intellect, but they do not produce it.

In Athens, the hallowed halls of academia were the rolling hills; the trees, its walls; and its roofs were the vaults of the heavens. A Greek’s povertyhis lack of possessionsdid not hinder his ability to acquire wisdom, nor did it prevent the formation of his virtues. As I think about secular colleges and about their wealth, their plentiful, stately possessions, and their material offerings, I also think upon their emptiness and the disintegrating state of their education.

It is tempting to gage the worth of a college or university by the beauty of its buildings or the stateliness of its campus, and they are by no means unimportant. Yet they are not the heart.  The heart of a university is the friendship between its members, centered on the love of what is true, good and beautiful. In this regard, Wyoming Catholic is a living rebuke of the secular university.

Just as a poor field holds a pearl of great price or as a small manger in an impoverished town somewhere in Judea held an infinite treasure, so, too, our small, seemingly-unimportant college in Wyoming is rich in wonder and wisdom, whether it has impressive buildings or not.


Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.


The “Pied Beauty” of the Presocratics

Last week, The Imaginative Conservative published an article on the Presocratic underpinnings of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ famous “Pied Beauty”—an article written by our very own Madison Michieli (’19):

The Presocratic influence does not simply underpin “Pied Beauty,” however. It charges through all Hopkins’ imagery, as further analysis makes clear. In the first seven lines, he revels in all natural changes, from heaven to earth. Even the very word “dappled” brings forth the play of light on dark, overshadowing all creation from the patchwork of the countryside to the stippling of trout. Hidden below the specific images are the four elements, which through their combination and disintegration traditionally bring about all change. In the “skies of couple-color” we find air; in “trout that swim,” water; in “fresh firecoal chestnut falls,” fire; and in “landscape plotted and pieced,” earth. Without mimicry, Hopkins here carries a subtle undertone of the ancients, of the Heraclitean fire and Thalian water.

As I read Madison’s piece, I was struck by the way it grows out of Wyoming Catholic’s belief in a fully-integrated curriculum. Our students read the Presocratics during Freshman Year (as part of their PHL 102 course), but they don’t encounter Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty” until the following year (in HMN 201). As a member of an institution that encourages its various disciplines (and professors) to influence one another, though, Madison was able to recognize the ways in which Hopkins allowed his own philosophical education to pollinate and enform his poetry, and to embrace the same interdisciplinary approach in her interpretation.

The proper response to inscape, to the “lapping, run-and-mingle” of Being with Non-Being, is not subtle discourse in possibilities. Rather, it is acceptance of contrariety’s paradox: It is asking for causes and answering by assent. By the Parmenidean “yes and is,” Hopkins can hear the polyphony of finches’ wings and speckled trout as the “lapping, run-and-mingle” of Being with Non-Being. And in recognizing the mystery of this changing, fickle universe, he can sacrifice it to the unwavering origin of all being. “He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change, / Praise him.”

Read the whole thing.


Hillary Rowney grew up in a small California town next to Yosemite National Park. After graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 2008, she was an elementary and junior high school teacher at a private Catholic school in Park City, UT for several years. She is Wyoming Catholic College’s Director of Student Life.


Pipe Night

The men of the College have begun a small tradition at the dorms: “Pipe Night” on Mondays. Gathering on one of the dorm porches, they light up their pipes and begin a conversation about the intellectual life, chivalry, or whatever else might strike them as a good topic of discussion. They often read poetry, gaze at the stars, and sing folk songs, as well.

This is a beautiful example of the ways in which the things a student learns from his books or from his professors can be lived out: to wonder at the stars, to think deeply about the important things, to turn that singular thought into the friendship of several minds conversing together, and by singing the same songs, to share in the same “weal and woe” that men before have experienced for hundreds of years.


Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.


Wrestling with the Donatists

Today, in Theology class, a section of Seniors discussed valid sacraments and schism in the early Church with Professor Kyle Washut. They read from St. Augustine regarding the dispute between the Catholic Church and the Donatists over the question of valid Baptism. Augustine taught that the Donatists were performing a valid sacrament even though they were in schism. As a result, the class wrestled with the question of how a sacrament could be considered valid if the group administering it is not in union with Rome.

Over the next week, the Seniors will continue reading the Patristics, learning about the fittingness and necessity of the Church hierarchy, how it developed, and how it has been understood from the times of the early Church to the present.


Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.


Just Another Week in the Life of the Mind…

Our students have settled into their third week of classes.

In Art History, the Senior class has been reading the Ten Books on Architecture by Vitruvius and discussing the objective foundations of art recognized by the ancient Roman mind. They have also memorized their first poem of the semester: “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost.

The Juniors are reading Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in Humanities, as well as a variety of works from the early and high middle ages that help them to ponder the medieval understanding of the world.

The Sophomores just finished Livy’s history of Rome in Humanities class, where the story of Horatius at the bridge was by far a favorite. Now, they begin their study of St. Thomas’ Summa Theologiae in Theology, undertaking the difficult questions of who and what is God (in terms of being and substance). Also, what is Providence?

The Freshmen have just begun Aristotle’s “Ten Categories” in Philosophy class and are wrestling with the question of “What is a name?” They are seeking to understand the types of accidental and substantial being and what it means for one thing to be “said of” or “present in” another.

Seem like a tough week to you? Not us; we love this stuff!


Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.


Sorting Night: An Annual Tradition

On Sunday night, the Freshmen were officially sorted into three groups: Cowboys, Poets, and Philosophers. These teams represent the “types” of students and each embodies a fundamental aspect of the college: the Cowboy, a rough and real man instilled with natural virtue and formed in the harsh-but-beautiful realities that come from a life “rooted in the soil;” the Poet, a man of melancholic temperament who dwells on the mysterious and the wonderful, using his art to enflesh in word and song that which is too great for understanding; the Philosopher, tireless seeker of wisdom, who loves the Truth so ardently that he would lay down his life in its service.

Once students are designated as either a Cowboy, Poet, or Philosopher, they retain their allegiance to that team for the remainder of their time in Lander. Throughout the coming years, these teams of students will match their wits and strength in school-wide competitions such as the Ludi Marials, Quis Quid, and the Winter Olympics.


Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.


Sharing the “Wyoming Catholic” Experience

Greetings from Wyoming!

We consider ourselves blessed to be able to live here in Lander, to grow in mind, body and spirit, and to be surrounded by others who are seeking the same. Throughout the year, there are countless conversations—in class, at lunch tables, on the field playing sports ,and staying up late in the dorms—about the deepest of matters (and also, the not-so-deep)… Friendships grow—on the outdoor trips, at the dances, walking to and from classes—and there are countless day-to-day moments that remind us of the unique opportunity we have been given here at Wyoming Catholic College.

These opportunities often feel unrepeatable, and unique to the moment in which they take place. But we know that many of our friends and family would love to hear about them, all the same. And so, we’re starting a Student Life blog to share some of them with you; a little slice-of-life from Lander, Wyoming.

Enjoy, as best we can give you from afar, the Wyoming Catholic experience!


Hillary Rowney grew up in a small California town next to Yosemite National Park. After graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 2008, she was an elementary and junior high school teacher at a private Catholic school in Park City, UT for several years. She is Wyoming Catholic College’s Director of Student Life.