A true devotee of the liberal arts, Dr. Epps has two decades 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.
Born and raised in central Oklahoma, Lauren received a Bachelors of Science in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2014. A desire to use her knowledge to serve then led her provide weather routing and voyage optimization products for the commercial shipping industry at Weathernews Americas, Inc. for five years. After the birth of her son in 2019, she dove into the waters of classical education to teach mathematics and science for middle school and high school aged students with Scholé Academy.
As a naturalist, weather watcher, rock collector, night sky observer, and Catholic from the cradle, she has a deep appreciation for the rhythm and order of creation that points to the divine love and majesty of her Creator. She sees science and mathematics as the tool and the universal language (respectively) by which man comes to grasp knowledge of God at the natural level (Rom 1:20). She is interested in the intersection of Catholic motherhood and the modern world, and when she is not engaging in her labors of love for her family, she can be found tending her vegetable garden, creating art and useful things from "found" or spare items, painting, or enjoying some prayerful solitude in the wilds of nature beyond her front door.
Having begun his career in finance, Charles holds an M.Sc. from the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. In addition to his graduate studies and work experience, Charles has five years of classroom experience teaching English and philosophy at various colleges in Northeast Oklahoma.
In 2013, Charles co-founded the Stanley Rother Catholic Worker outreach in Tulsa, and he continues to manage its hospitality ministry, Kraston House. He lives in Broken Arrow with his wife Brielle and their three children.
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.
Our deep thanks to Brett Farley and James Silk for serving as Members of the Board during our founding, including valuable service in launching the Urban Village conference.
Founding Fellow, President of the Board
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.
I am a proud husband, father, Catholic, and neighbor. A transplant from Oregon, I have lived in Oklahoma long enough to get married, have five children, and cast deep roots in the state I now call home. Together with my wife, Angela, and some friends, I helped found Tuesday Vespers, a group dedicating to helping families gather to pray and share a meal and, in the process, build a community ready to greet the Lord on His return.
Professionally, I serve as an Ad-Hoc Fellow at the Servi Institute and a Graduate Teaching Associate in the History Department of Oklahoma State University, where I am working on a PhD in American Religious History. I also received my M.A. from Oklahoma State, where I wrote a thesis on the life of Oklahoma's two Benedictine abbeys. My current project explores both Protestant and Catholic encounters with the Virgin Mary in Early America.
With both my academic work and my work with Servi, my overarching desire is to help find a way forward for Catholics to build resilient communities and neighborhoods able to live the faith and pass it on to our children.