Feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo
August 28th, 2023
Dear Friends of Wyoming Catholic College,
“Lord, it is good for us to be here!”
My name is Kyle Washut, and for the past four years, I have had the honor to serve as Academic Dean of Wyoming Catholic College. As some of you have surely heard, on August 3rd, the Board of Directors of the College named me President, making me the fourth president in the history of this extraordinary institution.
I am extraordinarily blessed and excited to take up this new challenge, because I know that this college is unique in the realm of Catholic higher education. And I am convinced that the world needs exactly what Wyoming Catholic is doing. We all need her students and her graduates, need the families they will raise, the careers they will carve out and purify. We need their stubborn willingness to stand up for the true, good, and beautiful despite the ridicule they will face, and above all, we need the transformative leaders they will become.
Truly, these students will transform the world; I guarantee it!
I am humbled and honored and (if I’m being honest) more than a bit overwhelmed. Following a leader as respected and beloved as Dr. Glenn Arbery is intimidating, and the task of piloting this gem of a college through the uncertain economic and societal waters of the future is a daunting one. But it is a task made easier by knowing that Wyoming Catholic College has so very many friends to help us navigate through the stormy times ahead. Friends like you, who are as much a part of our success as the professors and the students who journey to Lander to take part in this amazing project—the community that is an instrument of the very education it imparts.
Shortly after I was named president, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. As I listened to St. Matthew’s account of that mystery, I realized that what is taking place here in Lander reflects that transfiguration story. Our students are called to the mountains, to an experience of the wilderness, of fasting, and of the ache that arises within our hearts as we pursue the truth. They are shown the beauty of what could be—of what will be—and then they are told to go back down into the plane of the world and remember what they learned on the mountaintops.
A few days later, my formal term as President began on August 20th, at the College’s Matriculation Ceremony. At that event, I had the chance to encourage our students to embrace the task before them and to remind them of the transfiguring power of this opportunity. “I am convicted that God has drawn you to these mountains for the same reason that He has always gathered His people in the wilderness,” I said. “God calls His people to the mountain so that He may bestow His merciful love upon them. He calls them so that He may teach them, and in mercifully teaching them, He sets them free.
God calls His people to the desert mountain to receive a radically liberating education!”
As I told The Pillar’s J.D. Flynn in a recent interview, here at Wyoming Catholic, “we are deeply aware that Catholic education comes from a tradition”—a tradition that began with the Desert Fathers, that believes “going into the wilderness” is the instigation that leads to a transformative encounter with Christ, and that recognizes that an immersive and rooted experience of the natural world will give rise to delight, to wonder, and to a deep and abiding love of Truth. There are other institutions with similarly noble goals as these, and I pray daily for their success. But I also know that there is no place like Wyoming Catholic College, and I will do everything in my power to help her flourish!
Driven by my passion for this extraordinary place, I come to you today, asking for your support, as Dr. Arbery has done many times in the past. But I come with confidence that you will respond with generosity and with enthusiasm. Because you, too, recognize that what this College is doing is important and necessary. And you recognize that our youth, size, and relative unimportance in the eyes of the world are no match for our students’ passion for the Truth, for their joyful confidence and optimism, and for this College’s ambition for our young men and women to do great things for the future of the Church.
The world needs difference-makers, and these young people will make all the difference!
How can I be so confident? Because I’ve seen it happen. I see it happening every day, in fact, as these young people fill the classrooms with their earnest voices, fill the hallways with laughter, fill our oratory with the sounds of praying, and fill the mountains and valleys with their songs. In my closing remarks that Matriculation Sunday, I said, “My dear students, you have come to the wilderness, not to see fine raiment, or to coldly observe landscapes. You have come to approach the mountain of the Lord, to be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Let everything we do be for that purpose. Be transformed.”
As St. Peter said on the mountain (and I echo today), “it is good, Lord, for us to be here!” It is good for Wyoming Catholic College to exist—to be here, in this time and at this place. And it is good for us to embrace this noble task of education, in a world increasingly disinterested in the beauty we pursue. As I look down from the mountaintops of Lander to the cultural battlefields below, I know that there is so much reason for hope shining forth from this place. Join yourself to this hopeful future by supporting the College’s work today at www.wyomingcatholic.edu/give. And please keep us in your prayers.
May God bless you.
Professor Kyle Washut, President
(307) 335-4214 • firstname.lastname@example.org