January 20, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Notre Dame project helps redefine feminism

How can the dignity and the vocations of women be fulfilled and lived out in the modern world? An opportunity to better understand this question and its answers will be available at The Edith Stein Project: Redefining Feminism on Feb. 10-11 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Through presentations and discussions, this intercollegiate conference will look at how the dignity of women is under attack in our culture. It will address the issues of eating disorders, violence against women, contraception, abortion and other pertinent topics, and it will approach how women can better live their vocations in the 21st century.

The Edith Stein Project, organized by a group of Notre Dame undergraduates, faces today’s issues from a Catholic perspective, but also provides an opportunity to be involved with a student group called “The Identity Project.” This promotes “the dignity of both men and women,” and it receives support from Notre Dame’s Right to Life Club and the Center for Ethics and Culture.

As many readers know, Edith Stein (1891-1942) was a respected educator and philosopher who was beatified as a martyr in 1987 and canonized as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in 1998. She was born a German Jew but converted to Catholicism, becoming a leading voice in the Catholic Women’s Movement in Germany. Deeply affected by the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila (the Carmelite founder), she became a Carmelite herself. She died in an Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust.

A biography can be found at www.edithsteinproject.com. At this site are links to full information about the project, including registration, lodging and costs. Also listed are names of student and professional speakers. Among the professionals are Patricia Falvey, Alasdair MacIntyre, Laura Garcia, Pia di Solenni, Order of St. Francis Sister Marie Morgan, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John M. D’Arcy, Alex Jech, Mica Cayton, Michael Scaperlanda and Erica Bova. Their biographies prove the richness and quality of their backgrounds, and many of their topics are given on the Web site.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting one of the following Edith Stein Project organizers: Anamaria Scaperlanda Ruiz (ascaperl@nd.edu), Madeleine Ryland (mryland@nd.edu) and Caitlin Shaughnessy (cshaughn@nd.edu).

Last year’s conference—the first of its kind—was named The Maria Goretti Project in honor of the 12-year-old Italian girl who died from stab wounds inflicted by a neighbor making sexual advances. Before dying, she forgave him. Later, he converted to Catholicism and attended Maria’s canonization in 1950 in Rome.

Let us pray for the success of The Edith Stein Project. Recognizing the sanctity and the struggles of both men and women in our challenging world paves the way for a better future.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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