By Ana Franco-Guzman
Highlighted in what many of the speakers said at the Given forum held earlier this month in Washington is what St. John Paul II would call the importance of feminine values in society. When God made Eve, he did not make her inferior but the opposite — his “ezer,” which means a vital helper.
Women should “thank God for our sex,” Helen Alvare, a professor of law at George Mason University School of Law told the audience of more than 300 young women at the Given Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum. The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious hosted the gathering June 7-12 at The Catholic University of America.
“In the world today there is what one would call a resistance of the notion of two-ness,” Alvare said, when women’s differences with men call for an active collaboration and appreciation of our differences.
Among the other speakers was Kara Eschbach, co-founder, editor in chief and publisher of Verily, a digital fashion and lifestyle magazine for women that aims “to empower and inspire women to be the best versions of themselves.”
She said the qualities women have, like beauty, are a gift.
“To reject the importance of the physical world is to turn the whole human experience into a sort of utilitarian exercise away of the use of a thing only in so far as it contributes to our salvation which misses the full scope of our creation,” she said. “The human heart is drawn to and attracted to beauty. That’s the thing for women, women are just absolutely beautiful.”
Feminine values also are human values, said Sister Norma Pimentel, another conference speaker. A Missionary of Jesus, Sister Norma is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas.
Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande has been taking care of the needs of unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, who have flooded across the U.S.-Mexico border into the Rio Grande Valley.
“We as women in the world and especially in the United States are called to open our hearts as women to welcome the stranger, the child that needs us. Just like Mary would … open her heart to welcome us.” she told Catholic News Service. “Only we as women can understand a mother’s love that is needed to give to these families that are hurting.”
The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious described the Given forum as “a launchpad for what St. John Paul II called the feminine genius and a response to Pope Francis’ call to activate women’s gifts in the church.”