Friday, October 10, 2008
College Road Trip to Belmont Abbey College
Before we even started on the road we ran into obstacles. First there were severe gas shortages in Chattanooga, Atlanta and Belmont itself - no gas, no road trip. Then there were torrential downpours complete with thunder/lightning in AL the day before we were leaving (storm was traveling east after leaving us) but the storms cleared. Then we realized we had never received confirmation of our visit but we got on road Thursday morning leaving a message on the switchboard answering machine. We got a call (during Madeleine's favorite song) that yes we were on their schedule and our letter must have been lost in the mail.
The drive took us exactly 8 hours from pulling out of our driveway to pulling up at the front door of the hotel. We drove around the campus and then had dinner. Then we collapsed since I was exhausted from the drive and not having slept well the night before the drive.
On Friday we arrived at the Admissions Office about 9am. We were shown a promotional movie and then Madeleine (and I) were able to ask questions of the admissions director. Then a student gave us a tour - it was a bit odd when at the last minute two elderly couples were added to our tour. Stephanie was rushed since she had class in just an hour, we weren't able to walk as quickly since we had senior citizens with us and we were not even able to see a dorm room since they had none empty. After the tour I was disappointed; I felt as if I had learned little about the College esp Catholic aspects. We found the admissions director because MJ had another question and we asked about sitting in on a class. We waited at Holy Grounds (the on campus coffee shop) while they found a class for us. We sat in on a freshman Composition class of 10 students. The piece they were discussing was odd to say the least - Men, Women, Sex and Darwin. The discussion centered around the institution of marriage (but the professor never said anything about it being instituted by God nor any mention of the Church), behaviors of female chimps and male baboons and evolutionary psychology. To be perfectly honest, I desperately wanted to raise my hand and throw in my two cents and then some.
So now we were done with our official visit but I was not ready to leave without seeing a dorm. So MJ and I headed over and knocked on a door and a female student was more than willing to show us her room. There are two girls to a room (very nice size rooms) in groups of four that share a bathroom, fridge/micro are permitted but not provided, there is A/C and all full-time students live on campus (unless one lives with their parents).
Then we headed to the Adoration Chapel since I'd been following its construction for the past few years. We arrived in the middle of a group of students (and some others) praying the rosary and joined in with them. As we were leaving the chapel, some students said hello to us and struck up a conversation. And as MJ and I have decided - it was a God thing!
We must have stood out there for over an hour chatting with Ben and another young man. Ben is the eldest of 7, homeschooled, his parents are FUS alumni but still he went to BAC. He told us about all the wonderful spiritual activities on campus - Adoration, praying the rosary in the Adoration Chapel and at the grotto, praying at the abortion clinic, Bible studies, retreats, daily Mass, vespers with the monks and great theology classes. Ben was truly an ambassador for BAC; without our conversation with him we would have walked away saying it was a very nice private college and it would have been crossed off MJ's list.
Madeleine and I headed to the next town (about 5 miles away) for a late lunch, crashed at our hotel for a bit and then went to 5pm Mass in the basilica (bldg to the left in the above picture). On a Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend there were about 40-50 students. We were able to chat a bit more with them after Mass. Then Madeleine and I came back for 7pm vespers with the monks. Overall, Madeleine loves the school now and is praying for $$$ to fall from the sky (or at least from the NC, SC or GA lotteries).