Thomas More College’s incoming class began their academic journey with hiking, swimming, and campfires in the White Mountains. The beautiful scenery of northern New Hampshire was a perfect setting for students to get to know the peers with whom they will spend the next four transformative years.
The College welcomed 41 new students marking a 25% increase of the student body—an achievement the College has been blessed with for the past three years. Seven students have joined us from the West, eighteen from the East, and twelve from the Midwest, one of whom is a National Merit Scholar.
New students arrived a few days before registration, loaded into the vans, and headed north for one and a half hours to reach the highest peak east of the Mississippi River—Mount Washington.
“Thomas More College embraces New England; it is our home and it will be home for all students,” said Dr. William Fahey, President of the College. “We go to the White Mountains so that the students can immediately see and experience—body, mind, and soul—the goodness and beauty of New England.”
Beginning with Mount Pierce—a 4310 foot mountain—students followed a steep and rocky trail festooned with trees and thick foliage. Upon gaining the summit, hikers were welcomed by a scenic view of Mount Eisenhower and peaks beyond, the most notable being Mount Washington. There they rested and enjoyed packed lunches of sandwiches, snack bars, and fruit. A few adventurous students even climbed a further 3.5 miles to a second viewpoint.
“I thought the opportunity to go higher up Mount Eisenhower was a nice challenge and worth the extra effort,” said freshman Nealia Fil. “Hiking is a great way to get to know people you’ll be living with, praying with, and studying with in the days to come.”
Following the hike, Father Maloney celebrated Mass at a lookout point, Mass Rock, only a short walk from the campground. Perched on the mountainside, Mass Rock provided a beautiful view of the valley. As the sun set behind distant mountains and Christ came down in the un-bloody sacrifice of Calvary, students sang a beautiful version of the “Je Vous Salue, Marie.”
“The experience was unique,” said George Paul Mendy. “I was comfortable in the atmosphere even though I was unfamiliar with everything. The scenery was really beautiful. My best memory is Mass at the mountain top. It wasn’t what I expected. Actually it was better. I felt like I was truly in God’s presence, almost in God’s own element.”
Late around the campfire, students were joined by faculty and staff members to converse, sing, and roast marshmallows. With a guitar, banjo, and drums the festivity of the campfire lasted long into the night.
Orientation finished off with a trip up the Zealand Mountain Trail. This hike was less strenuous. The students were able to enjoy the walk and have fun at a gorgeous waterfall on top. Following lunch, the group returned to the vans and made the trip back to the College campus.
“Climbing mountains is a great image of the academic life: we must ascend, but that ascent is fraught with set backs, the need for discipline, and opportunities for friendship and courage,” said Fahey, explaining why the Thomas More College orientation consists of an arduous hiking trip. “Like an education in the Truth, ascending a mountain is only possible when done with determination, but in the spirit of humility.”