A true devotee of the liberal arts, Dr. Epps has more than seventeen years of experience as a post-secondary and secondary educator, including three years of experience teaching at both secondary and post-secondary levels in Japan during a hiatus in his doctoral work.
Dr. Epps completed his Ph.D. in English with concentration in Religion and Literature Studies at Baylor University. He then taught at Belhaven College and the College of Biblical Studies in Houston until he found his way home to the Catholic Church. In 2011, he resigned from his evangelical Bible college post, was received into the Church, moved to Oklahoma City, and married the love of his life. He taught at Oklahoma State University for six years and served in a variety of parish capacities, including RCIA Director, before taking a post at St. Gregory’s University during a vigorous effort to renew Oklahoma’s only Catholic university in its mission. Dr. Epps served as Co-Director for Curriculum and Technology in the NASNTI Grant Program at St. Gregory’s University from July 2017 until the university’s closing, having already served as an external member of the Academic Excellence Subcommittee for its most recent strategic planning cycle. Dr. Epps developed the Formative Virtues Rubric as a description of a well-formed student for use in institutional effectiveness assessment, drafting guidebooks for administration and faculty.
Dr. Epps firmly believes that education must begin with the understanding that every human creature is endowed with the capacity for friendship with God from conception and is entangled in the sin and suffering of the world throughout life. Every human society exists to cultivate and protect some portion of that human capacity for friendship with God, a potential that can only be fully realized together with other people. He likes to encourage co-curricular and co-teaching activities that enrich education and help create authentic conversations. He finds that students who thrive in life are those who have been taught to wonder, to accept and even enjoy the uncertainty mixed with confidence and trust that marks the progress from a little learning to real wisdom.
I graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2008 with an English degree. During that time I met and married my husband, Samuel Jennings. I continued my education at The University of Tulsa and was awarded my Juris Doctorate in 2012. I enjoyed four years working with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City in my capacity as immigration attorney and, later, as an administrator for refugee resettlement services.
I am now happily settled as a wife, daughter, sister, mother of four boys, and estate planning attorney. I love the richness and cadence of language, English and other. I am always rejuvenated by my reading of Rumi and Khalil Gibran, as their work tends to shed light on my own experiences as a physical and emotional laborer in my small universe. I believe this imagery and attention to the interior life has helped me to grow more devoted to Catholic liturgy and the Holy Scriptures, as well. Mother Mary brought me to Christ. I hope that she may continue to guide me through prayer, and through the pursuit of truth and beauty in the Liberal Arts; and that her guidance may give sharp focus to the love and work I invest as a neighbor in my community.
My great-great-grandparents on my mother’s side found their way to central Oklahoma from Sweden, while on my father’s side, my three-times great-grandparents moved to the state from Virginia, after immigrating from England well before the Revolutionary War. I grew up in a Protestant family and was homeschooled. I had almost no exposure to Catholicism growing up. I cannot remember a time when I was unable to read: I learned to read at a very young age and developed the habit of reading voraciously by the time I started first grade. My favorite subject has always been history. During my time at Oklahoma Christian University, I traveled to Europe and stepped into a gothic cathedral for the first time. Visiting so many magnificent old churches made me aware how recent the religion I was raised in was in comparison to the Catholic Church. The seeds were planted by that trip and by a senior seminar in Renaissance and Reformation, but it was not until a couple of years after I graduated with B.A. in history that I became Catholic. In my case, it is definitely true that to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant. I met a cradle Catholic and married, and we built our family of six children through four international adoptions, one domestic adoption, and one homemade baby.
Since before my children’s education began, I’ve been primarily interested in classical education, and I used this method when I began to teach them their letters and numbers. It was a thrilling process to teach them to read, and watch their wonder develop with the world of books which has been so important to me since I was very small. Learning disabilities and special needs among our children forced me to simplify my original plans for their education. It can be a challenge to teach truth, goodness, and beauty, while helping a struggling child master basic skills, but all children deserve to learn what they can of the best of Western civilization. A book published by Memoria Press, Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child, by Cheryl Swope, has provided me much inspiration in this daunting task.
I’ve been educating my children for seven years now, part of the time with some of them getting instruction from a classical Christian school, and more recently, a small Catholic boy’s school. Some of my children have significant medical needs, which require a constant round of therapies, appointments with various specialists, and surgeries. My six children are involved in many different activities including ballet, music, karate, and swimming. I’ve learned many things while helping my children develop their interests and talents. Learning new things keeps life interesting amidst the round of routine tasks that are part of my life as a wife and homeschooling mother. Most recently, I trained to be an official with Oklahoma Swimming, something that would have never occurred to me to do on my own. My life is very busy, but I get my most important sustenance by attending the Traditional Latin Mass as a parishioner at St. Damien’s. Reading is still a very important part of my life—I try to read at least two books per week, mostly history or books about education or liturgy. Some of my favorite authors are Anthony Esolen, John Senior, Stratford Caldecott, Martin Mosebach, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Peter Kwasniewski, Thomas E. Woods Jr., and Benedict XVI.
A fifth-generation native of Edmond, Oklahoma, Brett is the oldest of three sons born to a Navy family. Moving around the state and across the country, his family returned to home base in Edmond where Brett graduated from the acclaimed Deer Creek High School.
Brett accepted a Navy ROTC scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. Brett engaged in all things civic soon after entering OU. As a founding member, Brett joined a handful of other young men in starting and operating the first conservative newspaper in the university’s history. Disabused by divine circumstance of his dream to become a Navy fighter pilot—the Defense Department prefers pilots with good eyesight—he graduated from OU with a BBA in Marketing and moved immediately to Virginia Beach after accepting a scholarship to Regent University’s joint Law-Government graduate program. While at Regent, Brett was tapped to run the Virginia and West Virginia campaigns for Alan Keyes for President. After completing his Masters degree, Brett and his wife moved to D.C. so he could pursue a Ph.D. at Catholic University of America; but a desire to provide for his family won out, and the doctoral program was put on hold while he dived head-first into political consulting, training under Carlyle Gregory.
In 2004, Brett, Jessica, and two-month-old Rebekah traveled the 1,339 grueling miles from D.C. to Oklahoma in three days. Shortly thereafter, Brett ran his father’s campaign for Oklahoma House of Representatives. Among many other roles, Brett served as a political appointee to the House staff in 2005 and as National Grassroots Director for Duncan Hunter for President in 2007. He has also consulted with many other non-profits, charities, and public interest organizations. In 2008, Brett consulted with the U.S. State Department, in coordination with his father, then U.S. Diplomat to Iraq, in bringing a delegation of Iraqi leaders to the U.S. for a tour of several states and capitals. He maintains extensive ties with State Department officials around the world.
Brett now serves on the boards of numerous committees, organizations, non-profits, as Chief Evangelist for Veritas Strategies, a digital media consulting firm, and is the Executive Director for the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma. He is the author of the short novel The Dream, and is currently authoring a memorial biography after the tragic death of his father during the "Surge" campaign for Iraqi freedom in 2008. He and his family converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 2011, are members of St. Monica Catholic Church, and are active in the Edmond and greater-OKC community.
I am a fifth-generation Oklahoman. I was raised in one of our small towns. Growing up, I was exposed to very little Catholicism or the liberal arts. My mind’s only oasis was a few friends of unusual depth. I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2006 with an Economics degree. In order make sense of the existential frustration of my postgraduate years, I took to books. Providentially, one of the authors I picked up was G.K. Chesterton. His thoughts escorted me into the Catholic Church in 2008.
Soon after my acceptance into the Church, I began to explore monasticism. Initially, I was granted permission to be a guest at Clear Creek Monastery for six months. I spent this time reading good literature and working on the farm. It was a joyful experience. Following this, I spent near a year receiving a high quality intellectual formation from the Brothers of St. John. It was a metaphysical education in the tradition of St. Thomas. Finally, I spent three years living a semi-eremitical existence, mostly at Holy Family Hermitage in Bloomingdale, Ohio, where I had the privilege of being the cook. I spent those three years cooking, reading, and praying. My time at Holy Family Hermitage culminated in a deep experience of Truth.
Currently, I work as the Dean of Faith Formation at St. Josephs Old Cathedral. I am a Third Order Franciscan Penitent, and I am pursuing my Masters in Theology through Holy Apostles College and Seminary. My thoughts often turn to the need for a renewal of Catholic education that presents the breadth and depth of our rich intellectual and spiritual heritage.
Originally from Centennial, Colorado, Patrick completed his bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Oklahoma in 2016. While there, he worked as a Reserve Analyst for PM+, and currently serves as a Client Services Manager for Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). He has been very active in the Catholic Young Adults of Oklahoma City and with the ministry of the St. Thomas More University Parish and Catholic Student Center, where he helps to coordinate the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). In April of 2018, Patrick and his bride Lauren married at St. Damien of Molokai Catholic Church in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Patrick is interested in Catholic education, in the various Greek as well as Latin rites of the Church, and in the practical dimensions of building a future for Catholics living, working, and worshiping together in Oklahoma.