A new four-year co-ed seriously Catholic liberal-arts college opened its doors this week to 35 students. Wyoming Catholic’s president, Rev. Robert W. Cook, took some questions from National Review Online’s editor Kathryn Jean Lopez about the hows and the whys of the new school. Here are some highlights.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Couldn’t you get more creative than “Wyoming Catholic”?
Rev. Cook: Our name is a distinctively “Wyoming” name: it is clear, honest, and to the point. It perfectly captures the three dimensions of the school: learning in the outdoors of Wyoming, being Catholic without apology, and being a college where one learns how to learn, how to think and communicate, which are all the foundational skills necessary for any future occupation or career our students may undertake.
Lopez: Aren’t there enough schools? Why start another?
Rev. Cook: There are never enough good schools and certainly not in the categories of the liberal arts, or Catholic education, or in coming to know and understand reality through immersion in nature. As Dr. Bill Bennett put it, “I would say out of all the hundreds of institutions of higher learning in our country, there are maybe a dozen like Wyoming Catholic College where you can get a traditional liberal arts education.” Other institutions might teach their students how to get a job, but very few are prepared to teach them to be a “whole” person, as God intended. WCC has also made Ex Corde Ecclesiae an integral part of its constitution. Few schools calling themselves “Catholic,” can truly claim to be followers of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution. Finally, WCC takes seriously its claim to educate the whole person, body, soul, and spirit. And so, its outdoor adventures and equestrian programs fulfill the third dimension necessary for the education of the whole person: an aspect often unaddressed in our country’s institutions of higher learning.
Lopez: Are you better than other Catholic schools?
Rev. Cook: To be honest, because most Catholic schools do not adhere fully to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, I do believe that we are better that most. Our theology professors have a mandatum from the Ordinary of our Diocese, Bishop David Ricken. All of our Catholic faculty are required to take an oath of fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church and must promise to remain faithful in their practice of the faith. Our students truly experience an environment of spirituality that is steeped in the Catholic Tradition, Catholic theology, the Eucharist, devotion to the Blessed Mother, and personal and liturgical prayer. All this at least makes WCC truly and authentically Catholic, and that’s better than otherwise!
Lopez: Are you a model for other schools in some way?
Rev. Cook: I would be pleased if that turned out to be the case. The number of prospective students that have contacted us points clearly to the tremendous thirst and need for the Catholic, classical liberal-arts education that we offer, combined with an outdoor program that helps students find themselves and immerse themselves in their studies without the distractions of too much technology.
The Catholic college plans to apply for myriad accreditations and increasing their enrollment vastly.
This is heartening to see when so many Catholic colleges have veered so badly from their original goals. While so many of our Catholic universities are more interested in proving how ecumenical they are, I’m happy to see Catholics proud of their Catholicism.
Cook said students at WCC can “live their Catholic faith in an integral way, drawing on the riches of Catholic tradition. If this is what they seek, they can find it here, and it will serve them well for the rest of their lives.”