Vocation can have a lot of different meanings to different people. Students are encouraged to develop their own sense of what vocation means to them. Common synonyms we see are purpose, calling, and or mission. Ultimately, vocation gives our lives an overarching purpose, it is something that organizes are lives and so gives our lives meaning. Our vocations are built on our core values but also upon our relationship to the world. Vocation is a matter of how our gifts, talents, and interests match up to the needs of the communities in which we live. The search for our vocation is the search for a life that is fulfilling – both for ourselves and for the world.
Vocation is the kinds of lives we seek to live and the kinds of people we want to be in relation to the communities in which we live and serve.
Vocation focuses on how we live our lives rather than what we do with them. Vocation asks us to explore our values, what matters to us, our purpose, how we will positively impact the world, and the community, the individuals and systems we will serve.
Discernment implies the search for truth and the ability to think broadly about what is right and what is wrong. Discernment requires us to listen closely to ourselves and the world, to understand the needs of our communities and to hear a call. The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus say:
Discernment is a learning process that involves the cooperations of human beings who try to relate their lives, talents, and resources to God’s priorities.
Discernment is a constantly developing skill that we will never master. Discernment can be applied in all areas of life, not just in the search for vocation and purpose.
Questions to Engage your Student
Vocational discernment is an on-going process that doesn’t need to stop during breaks from school. Ask your student ‘big questions’ that require them to explore their values and identity as it relates to what they are learning in college.
- What have you learned about this semester that shifted your perspective on how the world works?
- What sort of injustices have you learned about and how do you think you can respond?
- Did you find yourself wanting to learn more about a certain topic or subject outside of class? Which topic or subject? What else did you learn?
- Spring Hill College is trying to form you to be a person for others. In what ways do you feel you work to improve the lives around you on campus or at home?