18 September 2009

Thomas More College: A Well-Rounded Catholic Education

The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is a small Catholic college tucked away in the woods of Merrimack, New Hampshire. Not only does it provide an education faithful to the Magisterium, it is affordable, and situated in a lovely area of New England.

I should also add that it provides an Oxford program via the Oxford Center for Faith and Culture, directed by Stratford Caldecott, who has written beautifully on reawakening the imagination in higher education (and who also happens to manage G.K. Chesterton's private library).

The following press release was sent to me by Charlie McKinney:

MERRIMACK – With one of the largest incoming classes in its history, Thomas More College’s faculty and incoming freshmen spent two days hiking New Hampshire’s White Mountains and discussing the essential role a liberal arts education will play throughout their lives.

After a blessing by the College’s chaplain, Fr. William Ventura, the new students climbed the Mt. Willard trail to have lunch on the ledge overlooking Crawford Notch and the Willey Slide—the bare land on Mt. Willey marking the spot of the deadly avalanche recounted by Nathanial Hawthorne in his short story “The Ambitious Guest,” which the students read as their first homework assignment at the College.

After descending Mt. Willard, the group crossed the rugged Jefferson Notch Road, where deserters of Roger’s Rangers, fleeing with loot from their raid against the Indian settlement of St. Francis, lost their way and were destroyed by the elements and the retaliating Indians. Amongst the treasures lost was the “Silver Virgin,” a statue beloved by the Abenaki Indians, based on an image of Our Lord and Lady from the cathedral of Chartes in France.

Upon arriving at their “base camp,” the Horton Center on Pine Mountain, students enjoyed a dinner of hamburgers and hotdogs grilled over the campfire and a fireside chat on the virtues necessary for the academic life rounded out the day. Morning prayer and evening Mass were offered on the heights looking out toward Mount Washington, providing the liturgical frame of each day.

Dawn on Day Two revealed Mt. Madison standing out amidst a cloudless sky and inviting the students and faculty to take to the heights. The students chose expeditions according to their level of athleticism, with some trekking into Mt. Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine to relax by the shore of tiny Hermit Lake, while others joined the Fahey in the assault of the Boott Spur, one of the high ridges of Mt. Washington. A final group tackled Mt. Adams, the 2nd highest peak in the White Mountains, ascending the celebrated trail known as the “Chemin-des-Dames”—named it seems in homage to the site of several battles during World War I that left many women bereft of husbands.

After a pasta dinner, the students were treated to another campfire chat, as Dr. Fahey expounded the medieval notion of a “Collegium,” as both a society of those who read together and of those bound together in the common pursuit of truth. Well exercised in body and in mind, and with friendships fast forming, the new Thomas More College students returned to campus full of enthusiasm for their first year of studies.

The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is a four-year college that provides the rising generation with an education that forms them intellectually and spiritually within the Catholic intellectual tradition and with full fidelity to the Magisterium. Additionally, the College has launched entrepreneurial new centers that seek to advance the teachings of the Catholic Church beyond the confines of its campus. These centers include the Vatican Studies Center , the Center for New England Politics and Culture, and the Center for Faith and Culture in Oxford , England.