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Conference to examine identity

Emily Schrank | Tuesday, February 9, 2010

 The Edith Stein Project, sponsored by the Identity Project of Notre Dame, will return to campus for a fifth year, initiating an honest discussion on human identity and relationships. 

This year’s conference, scheduled to take place this weekend in McKenna Hall, is titled “No Man is an Island: Creature, Culture and Community.”  
JoAnna Roman, co-chair of the 2010 Edith Stein Project, said the conference will examine the relational nature of human beings in terms of a lot of separate issues, such as marriage, the family, homosexuality, sexual violence and eating disorders.  
“While the conference has focused on women and women’s issues in the past, we decided on a theme that would bring out more on the human person and human relationships,” Roman said.  
This year, over 30 people will present at the conference, she said.
Notable speakers include Mother Dolores Hart, a Benedictine nun from Connecticut and a former Hollywood actress, once starring in a film alongside Elvis. Hart will share thoughts on how relationships played a role in finding her vocation, Roman said.
Sarah Johnson, also a co-chair of the conference, said the Edith Stein Project is especially important in a culture where many problems, like sexual assault and eating disorders, are all associated with identity.
“These issues or problems have deeper theological and philosophical dimensions, which go into the very root of being,” she said.  “That is really what the conference is all about.”     
Both Roman and Johnson got involved with the Edith Stein Project early in their college careers. 
“A friend had recommended the conference to me during my freshman year,” Johnson said.  
Her interest piqued, and she went and has been attending it ever since.
Roman’s involvement with the conference began when she attended it for the first time during her sophomore year.  She said she was inspired by the presentations and the spirit of those working on the conference. 
“It spoke to me as an honest and frank effort to reach out to other people, no matter their thoughts or beliefs,” she said.
Speakers will present throughout the day Friday and Saturday on various topics including motherhood and fatherhood, vocations and contraception. 
A Mass, dinner and discussion with John D’Arcy, former bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, will be held on Friday, beginning with the Mass at 5:15 p.m.