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Why Vocation Still Matters Amidst a Pandemic

The Vocation Implementation Team (VIT) is dedicated to developing vocation resources and experience for the University of Dayton community, both for faculty and for staff. During this time in UD’s history, we are faced with an unprecedented challenge: how can we best support our community when we are torn apart by a Pandemic? The VIT’s Leadership Team met on April 2nd, 2020 to discuss how current programs and future plans are being adjusted and changed. 

According to the Leadership Team of each SubCommittee, each team is dedicated to completing their mission while making the necessary adjustments. Our Retreat Subcommittee is rescheduling events for later dates and entertaining the idea of creating a virtual opportunity to replace the previously planned in-person sessions. The First Year Cohort is still working together and completing their meetings through Zooms and regular check-ins. And finally, the Mini-Grant team is collaborating with the grant recipients to create timelines for their individual projects moving forward. 

After providing their regular updates to the VIT Leadership Team, each meeting attendant shared their struggles with the question of how to best support the UD’s faculty, staff, and students. Teaching is no longer in a classroom, in-person collaboration is moot, and students are left to their own devices (quite literally) when it comes to studying. The definition of “regular” is contingent on news reports and daily press conferences. As a team dedicated to Vocation, we were faced with the question of “where does vocation play in all of this?” 

In short, the answer is “everywhere.” Now, more than ever, people are being called to bring forth their talents, their abilities, and their time. University of Dayton faculty are donating personal protection items from their very own classrooms to local healthcare facilities (see full story here). Volunteers across the country are working alongside Joann Fabrics to create reusable fabric masks for medical personnel. And the Cincinnati Zoo is donating their Flower Show blooms to local hospitals and nursing homes to brighten the days of people who are struggling. Regular people across the nation and the world are finding ways to align their talents with the cries for help and are making a large impact.

Instead of simply asking “what am I good at?” times like these are forcing people to question “what does the world need me to be?” And this question is at the very heart of vocation. Vocation, as defined by the University of Dayton, is  “answering a call to discover one’s unique gifts and employ them in service for the common good in ways that are personally satisfying and bring meaning to one’s life.”  Rather than simply employing our gifts and talents to our professions, we should be dedicating our abilities to the communities and world we live in so that we can bring more meaning to who we are called to be. 

As a Marianist Institution, the University of Dayton pushes students, faculty, and staff to explore their own vocation, to reflect on their journey, and dream about their futures. We are a community of leaders and social activists who have the power to make a difference. Therefore, I challenge my fellow UD community members to view this time as a time of empowerment. Set aside time during Quarantine to discern your vocation. Dedicate time to reflect on your talents, reflect upon your passions, and reflect upon what our world needs today and what it will be asking for tomorrow. 

If I asked you today “who does the world need you to be” what would you say?

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