WCC’s 2023 Fall Break Appeal: “Make sure you want this before you sign up!”
It’s Fall Outdoor Week here at Wyoming Catholic, which means that most of our students are scattered throughout the back-country of the Mountain West, experiencing the glories of “God’s First Book ” up close once again. As I flipped through the trip descriptions for the dozen or so adventures they were undertaking—backpacking in the Winds or the Uintas; scaling some of Colorado’s famous 14ers; retracing adventurer John Wesley Powell’s whitewater rafting and kayaking through the Gates of Lodore; learning how to fly-fish with mentors from the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, canyoneering, rock-climbing, and mountain biking; even a Latin immersion backpacking trip—one, in particular, caught my attention.
“Learn survival training from a former Army ranger,” it said, quickly adding a number of cautions. “Conditions in late September in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains are unpredictable and can become extreme. It will be physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging.” And perhaps most tellingly, it included a plea to the potential participants to “make sure you want this before you sign up.”
“Make sure you want this before you sign up.”
It comes as no surprise to me that the warnings did not deter our students; the course was quickly and enthusiastically embraced. These are the kinds of students that are finding their way to Wyoming Catholic College—young men and women who don’t just want the unique, demanding program we’re offering; they need it. They come to this extraordinary outpost in Lander because they recognize that they must be pushed and challenged—”mentally, physically, and emotionally”—in order to be molded into the hopeful, articulate, clear-thinking, joyful, Catholic men and women that our society and Church so desperately needs. Their entire formation is essential survival training for the challenges they will face in an increasingly unpredictable and extreme world.
And I come to you today, dear friends, because I recognize that the great good being done here cannot be done without your help. First, though, a word of warning:
Make sure you want this before you sign up.
In my recent appeal letter (which most of you have received by now), I called these young people “difference makers.” I’m 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.”
But the world is increasingly embittered by the task we undertake here at the College. It sees education as valuable only for its impact on one’s wages and believes that the notions of truth, goodness, and beauty are quaint and deluded. So the ridicule these young people will face after they leave Lander behind is all too real. Supporting them in their counter-cultural pursuits is to choose the harder task, the less traveled path, and you will not be praised for it. If you help them to embrace this noble education in the face of contemporary jibes, you will be standing with us against the myriads of voices shouting that what we are doing—what you are doing!—is deeply foolish, even dangerously so. Our secular culture has rejected us and our students precisely because we stand upon the strength of the tradition, and that rejection is bitter and vindictive.
The extraordinary thing about these young people is just how deeply they WANTED this before they signed up for it! They were not misinformed when they came here nor did they think that the world would reward them for their principled opposition. They chose this, eagerly and purposefully. Each day, they fill the classrooms with their voices, fill our oratory with the sounds of their prayers, and fill the mountains and valleys with their songs. And as I look down from the mountains of Lander upon the cultural battlefields below, I know that there is a great deal of hope shining forth from this place.
Join yourself to this hopeful future by supporting the College’s work today. Keep these young people in your prayers, that they may always want the truth, goodness, and beauty that they have signed up for by coming here. And please help them by providing this extraordinary institution with the support it needs to continue our important work: transforming the lives of these men and women so that they can transform the world!
Professor Kyle Washut, President
Wyoming Catholic College