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Middle English vocacioun, from Anglo-French vocaciun, from Latin vocation-, vocatio summons, from vocare to call, from vox voice


  • 1 a : a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action; especially : a divine call to the religious life
b : an entry into the priesthood or a religious order
  • 2 a : the work in which a person is employed : occupation
b : the persons engaged in a particular occupation

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A vocation, from the Latin vocare (verb, to call), is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in secular contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.

The idea of vocation is central to the belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. This idea of vocation is especially associated with a divine call to service of humanity through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage to a particular person, consecration as a religious, ordination to priestly ministry in the Church and even a holy life as a single person. In the broader sense, vocation includes the use of ones gifts in their profession, family life, and social commitments for the sake of the greater common good.