Archdiocese names Scaperlanda new chancellor

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced Friday the hiring of former Saint Gregory’s University president Michael Scaperlanda as the diocese’s new chancellor. Scaperlanda begins Feb. 5.

Scaperlanda fills a position held by Justin Byrne who successfully updated the office before leaving for other career opportunities. Prior to Byrne, Loutitia Denison Eason served as chancellor for more than 13 years. Eason retired in July.

“Scaperlanda’s vast leadership experience, his passion for the Catholic faith and his life-long commitment to excellence will be tremendous assets for the archdiocese, our parishes and families,” said the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City.

As chancellor, Scaperlanda will serve as a principal leader in the diocesan curia. He will serve as canonical adviser to the bishop and will be the top adviser on legal matters and interpretation of laws, rulings and regulations.

“I am excited by this opportunity to work alongside Archbishop Coakley, a dynamic archdiocesan staff, priests, deacons, religious men and women, and lay persons as together we answer the Holy Father’s call to be missionary disciples,” Scaperlanda said. “The Holy Spirit is clearly moving in the Church in Oklahoma, and I am humbled by this call to use my skills and experience to serve the archdiocese as chancellor.”

Scaperlanda most recently served as president of Saint Gregory’s University in Shawnee. He has worked at the University of Oklahoma in various academic and administrative capacities since leaving the practice of law in 1989, including holding the Gene and Elaine Edwards Family Chair in Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

A nationally known scholar in immigration law and in Catholic legal theory, Scaperlanda’s books include “Immigration Law: A Primer” and “Recovering Self-Evident Truths: Catholic Perspectives on American Law.” He co-authored “The Journey: A Guide for the Modern Pilgrim” with his wife, María Ruiz Scaperlanda, the award-winning author of the biography on Blessed Stanley Rother. 

In addition to his service at Saint Gregory’s, Scaperlanda serves as a scholar participant in the Blessed Stanley Rother Hispanic Cultural Institute of Oklahoma City and Norman, and teaches in OU’s Visions of America Summer Institute for high school teachers. He is a past member of the Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the Oklahoma Bar Association's Legal Ethics Committee.

A graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Scaperlanda clerked for the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and practiced law for four years in Washington, D.C. and Austin prior to joining the faculty at the OU College of Law. He and María are members of Saint Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Norman. They have four children and eight grandchildren.

Scaperlanda is one of several former faculty and staff members from Saint Gregory’s University hired by the archdiocese following the university board suspending operations of the school in December.

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City serves Catholics in central and western Oklahoma, covering 46 counties and 42,470 square miles. The original Diocese of Oklahoma erected in 1905, became the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa in 1930, and then the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa in 1972.