Vocaré: The UMHB Meaningful Life Initiative

The mission of VOCARÉ is to integrate the language and processes of vocational exploration from a Christian perspective throughout the curricular and co-curricular programs of the university. The vision of VOCARÉ is to enable graduates of UMHB to live meaningful lives that fulfill the will of God and contribute to the common good.

Students walking through the Quad

Goals of the Vocaré Initiative

  • To foster a campus culture of meaningful life exploration.
  • To train faculty and staff mentors to engage students in conversations exploring life purpose.
  • To provide on and off-campus opportunities for students to explore and experience potential life callings.
  • To shape the curriculum to help students consider the spiritual, moral and societal commitments that produce meaningful lives, fulfill the will of God, and contribute to the common good.

Questions for Exploration

  • Identity
    • Who am I? What are my gifts, passions, and abilities?
  • Significance
    • What is truly important? What do I believe to be true, good and beautiful?
  • Responsibility
    • Who needs me? How can I make a difference in this world?
Photo of Fredrick Buechner

Fredrick Buechner

Spirituality in Higher Education Newsletter

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Fredrick Buechner

Spirituality in Higher Education Newsletter

As a Christ-centered university in the Baptist tradition, Mary Hardin-Baylor unites its Christian commitment with a mission to provide higher education in service to all people and to God. Students engage in faith-informed liberal arts and professional instruction to develop critical discernment and occupational competence in pursuit of meaningful and productive lives. The role of the VOCARÉ initiative is to enhance students’ sense of calling, purpose and competence as they move through the educational process. The title “VOCARÉ” (vō-câ´-rā), which literally means, “to call,” expresses the idea that meaningful living stems from an awareness of a guiding, moral purpose that forms a person’s identity and links that identity to one’s life work and to social goods and community needs.

To lead students to a deeper understanding of purpose, we must engage their minds in ways that create an intellectual hunger for a larger context of meaning. So, a basic approach of the VOCARÉ initiative is to engage students with the questions surrounding meaning and purpose rather than offering prescribed answers. At its heart, VOCARÉ is itself a calling or beckoning process. VOCARÉ is an enticement to seek, to explore and go beyond to find something more for one’s life. By raising questions of identity (Who am I? What are my gifts, passions and abilities?), of significance (What is truly important? What is the true, the good and beautiful?) and of responsibility (Who needs me? How can I make a difference in this world?) we open up space for conversation and dialog. Hence, VOCARÉ is not indoctrination but invitation.

Professor at UMHB

The beckoning process at the heart of VOCARÉ involves faculty and staff in sharing their stories of their own intellectual journeys. We must model how we ourselves have answered the great questions of life – How have we come to understand the world and our place in it? Why do we do what we do? What purpose do we find in our work, in our life? We must also engage students in exploration of purpose through reading, writing, reflection and action. We must mine our curriculum to find places and ways that we can be intentional about raising the questions of existence, of identity, of societal goods, of community needs and of personal significance and satisfaction.

When we raise these questions, we help students begin to see the difference between meaningful work and meaningless toil. We also help our students develop values of humility, compassion, service, reconciliation, honesty, fidelity and self-sacrifice, and we help them develop the character strengths of persistence and resilience to face the challenges of adulthood. We certainly hope that through the VOCARÉ initiative many students will find God and come to know Jesus Christ, but if they do not they may still enhance the quality of their lives and make positive differences in this world.

VOCARÉ, therefore, is by nature a conversational enterprise. Calling, purpose and meaning are all socially developed paradigms and constructs, and they are communicated through shared thoughts, passions and visions. By fostering the sharing of the personal narratives that inform and direct our own lives as faculty and staff, we can be instrumental in helping our students find their own calling in this life. By doing so, we also will be fulfilling our own callings and the calling of this university to fulfill its religious commitments and its educational mission.

Page last updated September 27, 2018