Article By: Suzanne R. Holsomback
When Louis Gomez came to George W. Truett Theological Seminary, he experienced something that only a handful of Truett students have experienced. Remembering back on his first year in seminary, Louis says, "When I go into the chapel, I think, 'my signature is under here.' They actually let us sign the chapel floor when it was still just cement and were still building it."
Louis began Truett in the fall of 2001 as well as pursuing both duel degree programs in Social Work (Masters of Social Work) and Counseling (Masters of Education). Louis says, "I came here and loved it. And loved the program and loved everything that I was doing."
While enrolled in the Clinical Pastoral Education course, Louis realized he enjoyed hospital chaplaincy and began discussing with his professor the opportunities of doing CPE for mentoring. Master of Divinity students frequently mentor in CPE; however, as a duel degree student, a mentorship in CPE would not count as field experience for Social Work or a practicum for Counseling. Louis chose chaplaincy and pulled out of both duel degree programs.
Louis says, "I did [CPE] at Children's Medical Center in Dallas and it was just great." He completed his first chaplaincy unit in Dallas over his final year at Truett, commuting to Dallas on days when he worked. Chaplaincy fulfilled Louis' love of counseling and ministry, and he began applying for residency programs to attend after he graduated. Scott & White in Temple, Texas accepted Louis into their program and he finished his remaining three chaplain credits.
He worked for a year as a chaplain and says, "I noticed I was working a lot with social workers and as a chaplain, I was advocating for the families and patients and providing support for families and staff." Through those experiences Louis saw that he could do more. He remembered his social work courses at Baylor and decided to call the School of Social Work and reapply to the program.
He began the Master of Social Work program, entering into the church social work specialization, which focuses on mental and physical health or on families and communities. He chose the first aspect of church social work, the mental and physical health concentration, which paralleled his passion for clinical aspect of social work.
Louis says that he is also interested in congregations and faith-based agencies, which lead him to a church for field placement. His field placement allowed him to work at Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas over the spring 2008 semester. Instead of mirroring ministers, Louis worked with individuals, families, and the community as a social worker in the church. He says his largest goal was to "help partner members of the congregation with clients" in the community and church. He walked alongside both clients and congregants while helping and training members of the church to continue ministry after he has gone. He says his position was "providing education or awareness or knowledge of resources in the community or simple helping skills. How do you empower a client, an individual? How do you use your own self and how that hinders and how that helps people."
Louis says his background at Truett and in the Baylor School of Social Work was essential throughout his field placement. Whether it was better understanding the personal longing for a spiritual connection or the strength in looking to faith in difficult times, Louis says that his education equipped him for his ministry and profession. He says, "It has been really interesting to see how that has played out in the congregation. I feel a lot different than when I was a second year Truett student. I feel like I have more knowledge and skills to go and do things. When an idea pops into my head, I know how to talk to a committee and use those skills and get things done even if I am just an intern."
Louis graduates from Baylor's School of Social Work in May 2008 and plans on working as a social worker in a church or congregational setting.