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Edith Stein event spurs discussion

Carly Landon | Monday, February 15, 2010

The Edith Stein Project, sponsored by the Identity Project of Notre Dame and held in McKenna Hall, returned this weekend for its fifth year and addressed a number of divisive yet pertinent topics to college-aged audiences.

This years program, titled “No Man is an Island: Creature, Culture and Community,” featured a series of lectures dedicated to initiating discussion on human identity and relationships.

Senior JoAnna Roman, co-chair of this year’s Project, said the Conference is successful because it is the largest student-run conference of its kind and it encourages the University community to challenge views of individuals in order to become more collectively compassionate.

“The Conference is a really great opportunity for the community to come to together to think about who we are as human beings, our innate human dignity and to really examine how we can work better to uphold that human dignity through the activity of our daily lives, especially in our relationships, our friendships, our families,” Roman said.

Throughout the weekend, students attended a variety of presentations given by more than 30 experts. Presentations focused on issues such as birth control, eating disorders and domestic violence.

Roman, who co-chaired the event with senior Sarah Johnson, said students tended to attend the presentations that were personally compelling to them.

“We had almost 300 people register, which is slightly higher than usual, and even though there is no accurate way to assess how many people actually attended, there are a lot of students who attend even if they haven’t registered,” she said.

The personal highpoint for Roman was witnessing the presentation by Melinda Selmys and the panel on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2006.

“We planned the speakers months ago, specifically this speech because we realized homosexuality and its treatment on campus was an issue on campus,” Roman said.

“Reflecting on recent campus events it became even more significant because it helped reiterate the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, which call us to be compassionate towards others regardless of their sexual orientation.

“I think it is important to be reminded of this because I think some people get so caught up that they don’t realize that, as Catholics, our first calling is to show compassion towards one another,” she said.

Roman reiterated her and Johnson’s thanks to everyone who took part in planning the Conference.

“The Edith Stein Project is a really huge undertaking. We have dozens of people every year who help from organizing speakers to getting food. It is a really humbling experience to those of us who plan to have so many people willing to become involved,” Roman said.

She added that the student participants make the Conference possible.

“We also want to thank all those who attended because what makes a conference is not the planning but the people who attend so we’d really just like to thank all the students who participated,” Roman said.