For the last 10 years, Franciscan University of Steubenville has discussed ideas to incorporate personal vocation assistance into the campus’s culture. This semester, the Office of Personal Vocation has been instituted to help students, staff and faculty reach their unique call from God, not just in the traditional sense of a vocation but also in the area of careers.
“Each of us has a unique, unrepeatable call from God,” said David Schmiesing, dean of the new Office of Personal Vocation.
Schmiesing said the new office desires to help laity live holy lives in the world by sanctifying the “temporal sphere,” which St. John Paul II writes about in “Christifideles Laici.”
Personal vocation is not only essential to the entire student body but also closely linked to faculty as well, Schmiesing said. He said he and his fellow staff members learned the importance of personal vocation when they discussed ideas for the department and met with many challenges in the process.
One challenge was new students and their parents asking about their potential higher education: “What am I supposed to do?”
Career services, missionary outreach and much more are offered under this new office. This initiative is not about this one specific office, however; it is about a community across campus.
Schmiesing said the office has been challenged to ask, “How do we create a culture of mentorship?”
Experiences such as SWOP jobs on campus help provide students with the opportunity to discover and perhaps understand their unique “calling.” Schmiesing said the idea is that at Franciscan, students will realize what their personal vocation is.
“The starting point is to understand that (students) have a call from God only they can fulfill,” Schmiesing said. “They’re being called to respond to that call in freedom. They’re not required to respond to the call or forced to take the call.”
An important example of personal vocation, Schmiesing said, is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, at the annunciation of the Lord, was given a choice by God whether or not to fulfill her calling. She chose to listen to God and accept the Son of God.
Action from students is needed for them to seek personal vocation. Schmiesing recommended that students should “talk to your professors. Especially those from classes you really enjoy.”
Sources such as Handshake and PathwayU are viable ways for students to find their personal vocation on a career scale.
One common mistake Schmiesing emphasized was that many students sometimes misunderstand that discernment is not a once and for all deal.
“What do I do after I graduate?” is the wrong question, Schmiesing said.
Personal vocation starts now with students and faculty acting in discerning the call God wants for them in their lives, whether in religious life, marriage or even singleness, he said.
Schmiesing said, “(The) most important thing I have to say is that your personal vocation is about the present moment.”
Joshua Miller, who holds a doctorate in philosophy, helped the university move the concept of an office of personal vocation forward. He is a coach for the department and has written a book called “Unrepeatable,” which is an introspection of personal vocation.
The Office of Personal Vocation can be found in the Student Life offices on the top floor of the J.C. Williams Center.