“All of life is entrusted to woman,” said Edwina Maksym as she looked out over the crowd during her presentation at the 9th annual Edith Stein Conference.
Franciscan University of Steubenville Women’s Ministry and Center for Leadership took students to The University of Notre Dame for the Feb.7-8 conference, themed “Relationships and the Call to Love.”
Maksym, director of general education at Lexington College in Chicago, presented her paper, “Relationality, Ethics of Care, and the Gift of Self.”
“As young women, you need to always find ways to use your intellectual gifts to influence the world,” said Maksym. “Take your thinking further. Don’t pull out of the culture simply because you become a wife and mother.”
The Edith Stein Project is an annual conference that began in 2004 when a group of undergraduate women at Notre Dame decided that there was a need for a conversation on authentic feminism and femininity.
Over the years, the conference has expanded, said Karen Stein, director of Advocating the Vocation of Women International Center. AVOW-IC is an organization in New York dedicated to bringing Bl. John Paul II’s understanding of womanhood to other women.
The Edith Stein Project has evolved to be a “first-class conference focusing on the dignity of vocations of women, according to the theological anthropology of Edith Stein and JPII,” said Stein. “It is an initiative I admire these students for taking, out of concern and love for their fellow students.”
Anne Costa, one of 32 speakers at the conference, presented her paper entitled “WOMAN: Know Thyself: Forming Women and girls in the context of their unique relational genius.”
“(Women are) uniquely equipped,” said Costa. “But there’s a vacuum on how to really realize what authentic femininity looks like … I really believe that filling that void is Edith. She really does teach us about ourselves in a way we’ve never heard before.”
Today, the project strives to include both women and men in a conversation on both feminine and masculine dignity while upholding the Catholic Church’s teachings on authentic personhood.
Edith Stein, canonized St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was a 20th-century philosopher dedicated to upholding the truth of the dignity of women.