Remembering Father James Schall

The Wyoming Catholic College community was saddened to learn of the passing of Father James V. Schall, S.J., earlier this week. “Father Schall’s participation in the history of Wyoming Catholic College is not as widely remembered or known as one might hope,” said Dr. Glenn Arbery, the College’s president. “But we here in Lander owe him a tremendous amount. His role in the events that led up to our founding leave us much in his debt, and we will remember him with particular fondness in our prayers this Easter.”

Dictated by his age and the distances required to reach Lander, Father Schall’s influence over (and support of) the College’s early years was one exerted from a distance, and included his service as a member of the Wyoming Catholic College Advisory Council in the seminal days after the College’s incorporation. Perhaps most importantly (and influentially), however, Father Schall was one of the teachers at the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought (WSCT)—the annual conference on Casper Mountain that provided much of the impetus and planning that led to the College’s founding in 2005, and which has been revived by the College in more recent years.

Professor Kyle Washut, an Instructor of Theology at Wyoming Catholic, grew up in Casper with two of the College’s trio of founders—Dr. Robert Carlson and Father Bob Cook—and was a participant in those early WSCT events. “I am struck by how much Wyoming Catholic College was in embryo up on the mountain,” he said. “It was all there: The Great Books, the incredible teachers, the enthusiastic students, the community, liturgical and campfire music, dancing, poetry, hiking, and the wilderness. And Father Schall was a vital participant in that birth.”

Father’s own experiences at the WSCT were captured in a 2003 piece he wrote for Crisis Magazine as part of his “Sense and Nonsense” series. It was titled, simply, “Wyoming,” and its closing remarks on what Life in Wyoming requires of those who embrace its challenges are a humorous (yet accurate) reflection of the ethos that Wyoming Catholic College’s students come to know and to love during their years in Lander. “To be a man in Wyoming, you need to be able, without boasting, to ride a horse, shoot a rifle, fish, hunt elk, repair and drive a truck, build and rebuild a house, know how to drive in snow drifts, wear a cowboy hat and western boots, dance in them, think, pray, speak softly, and, as St. Paul said, obey your wife in all things.”

Requiescat in pace, Father Schall. The Wyoming Catholic College’s community great gratitude and fervent prayers go with you.

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