“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 poverty—his lack of possessions—did 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.