Sacred Calling

Katherine Rogers says Dr. Buddy Landry saw something in her before she saw it in herself. As she was finishing up her bachelor’s degree in psychology, he kept encouraging her toward getting a Master of Arts in marriage and family counseling.

She said no — she “could never be a counselor”

— until one day she felt God asking her to say yes. She found she loved her counseling classes all the way through to the practicum at the end of the program. But then something happened — she began to doubt herself again.

As she met with Landry, she voiced her concerns.

“My intention in communicating these fears was to have Dr. Landry convince me that I made the right choice. But he didn’t,” she said. “All he did was listen.”

A couple of months later in one of those meetings, Rogers got emotional sharing with him about a breakthrough she had experienced with one of her clients. He gently pointed her back to the conversation they’d had earlier about her doubts.

“Dr. Landry began to tear up as we communicated how blatantly obvious it was that I was receiving my answer from God — yes, this is where I belong,” Rogers said. “It was this moment that became my favorite memory of my time at the University of Mobile … resting in God’s presence with the professor who was planting seeds years ago and who continued to hold my hand as I maneuvered my way toward God’s intentions for my life.”

Landry says for him, helping students grow in their calling is also one of his favorite parts of his role as an associate professor of marriage and family counseling. Over the course of his life, he was interested in psychology, and friends came to him with their problems because they found him to be a good listener. But it still took a long, winding road to get him to the career he’s in now.

Along the way, he served in retail and law enforcement, got a bachelor’s degree in religious education and started working on a master’s degree in biblical languages before realizing that God was directing him into counseling.

“But I’m a big believer that nothing along the way is wasted in God’s economy,” Landry said.

Since he came to UM in 2013, he’s worked to pass on the university’s emphasis on seeing people as made in the image of God.

“People are first and foremost image bearers, the pinnacle of God’s creation,” he said. “We can’t reduce them to their diagnoses or situations. We can never lose sight of the dignity and worth of the person sitting across the table from us.”

Landry says he’s “old school” in that, to him, the best classroom instruction and counseling happens face-to-face across the table from each other. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s had to adapt, but he says students dove right in through video calls and online growth groups that help them know what it’s like to be counseled as well as give counsel.

They’ve learned how to help people struggling with mental health issues in the midst of a pandemic alongside their normal curriculum, which includes topics like depression, addiction, crisis and trauma counseling.

“I believe this is a sacred calling,” Landry said. “We look back at the ministry of Jesus, and we see Him doing healing and restoration as well as growth and development. I impress upon our students that we’re doing God’s work here.”

About the Author

Grace Thornton