About the episode
"I really wanted to create a space that would illustrate and show a diverse range of stories from Catholic women, that would really show the beauty and the diversity of the many different ways in which we as women live out the faith." Corynne Staresinic is a convert to the Catholic faith from a strong Evangelical background. In the past, Corynne disagreed with the ways women were treated by the Catholic Church. But through dating her now husband—who was a Catholic—and diving into her own research, she started to see the beauty and wisdom of Catholicism. Through her faith journey, she came to see the beauty of Catholic femininity and the diversity of ways women live out their vocation, which led her to create The Catholic Woman. In this episode, Corynne and I talk about her journey of conversion to the Catholic Church, how The Catholic Woman came to be, and why it's so important to her to create a place for all women to belong.
Listen to the episode
Meet Corynne Staresinic
Corynne Staresinic is the founder and director of The Catholic Woman, a nonprofit multimedia platform dedicated to illustrating the many different faces and vocations of women in the Church today to inspire young Catholic women to embrace their own unique paths in the Church. Corynne is passionate about promoting the equality and dignity of women, and exploring the meaning of womanhood through Catholic theology and women’s stories. She is a convert to Catholicism from Evangelicalism and lives in the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area with her husband, Nick, and their toddler and infant.
Corynne's Instagram: @corynnestaresinic
The Catholic Woman on Instagram: @thecatholicwoman
The Catholic Woman on Facebook: @TheCatholicWoman.co
00:10 RACHEL WONG: This is The Feminine Genius Podcast, a podcast that celebrates all women of God and their unique genius. I'm your host, Rachel Wong. 00:20 MUSIC
00:31 RACHEL: Corynne Staresinic is a convert to the Catholic faith from a strong Evangelical background. In the past, Corynne disagreed with the ways in which women were treated by the Catholic Church. But through dating her now husband—who happened to be a Catholic—and diving into her own research, she started to see the beauty and wisdom of Catholicism. Through her faith journey, she came to see the beauty of Catholic femininity and the diversity of ways women live out their vocation, which led her to create The Catholic Woman. In this episode, Corynne and I talk about her journey of conversion to the Catholic Church, how The Catholic Woman came to be, and why it's so important to her to create a place for all women to belong.
01:27 RACHEL: Hi Corynne!
01:27 CORYNNE STARESINIC: Hello Rachel!
01:29 RACHEL: How are you?
01:29 CORYNNE: I'm doing great, how are you?
01:31 RACHEL: I'm doing well, thanks! Thank you so much for joining me on The Feminine Genius Podcast! I wanted to say first and foremost, that I'm such a huge fan of The Catholic Woman and the work that you and your team do so, I am so excited to share some of your time, to talk a little bit more about Catholic femininity. Obviously huge and very popular topic among the guests of my podcast so just welcome! Thank you for being here!
01:55 CORYNNE: Yeah, thank you so much for having me!
01:57 RACHEL: Awesome. Okay, so maybe for starters, for those who may not know you, I was wondering if you could introduce yourself and share a little bit about who you are and what you do.
02:07 CORYNNE: My name is Corynne. I live in the Northern Kentucky-Cincinnati area in the Midwest with my husband, who is also my high school sweetheart, and our two kids—our baby, Ezra who is eight months now, and our toddler Eloise who is just going on three years now. So we live here, I work from home and I work full-time on The Catholic Woman, so I'm the founder and director of this nonprofit, and most of our work is remote. My husband works here as well, from home, as a director and cinematographer and video editor. So we have a ton of fun doing creative collaboration together and he's been such a big part of just my work in general.
So yeah, so I run The Catholic Woman which is an online-based nonprofit for young Catholic women. The initiative is basically to illustrate the many faces and vocations of women in the church, to basically help women see their place here and know that they have a place in the church and their value here. We launched in March of 2017 and have been going now for about four years since, and it's been really incredible to watch. And then on March 25 we'll have our first book A Place to Belong come out, which is an anthology of letters from a bunch of wonderful women, and it's a devotional, so it has like a journaling component to it as well.
03:30 RACHEL: Oh, that's so awesome! And I think listeners will be able to see, like I alluded to, there are so many little bridges and connections between the work that we both do and I find that to be so beautiful, just to see how the church is so alive, but particularly lay woman—and of course religious woman—all of us working together to really build up those kingdom in a way that is unique to us and unique to us as individual women. So, that is so exciting. And I want to note, too, for our listeners. March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation. What a beautiful day to release a book! That's so awesome!
04:06 CORYNNE: Yeah, yeah, it's a real honour that the book gets to come out on that day, very exciting! [laughs]
04:10 RACHEL: Yeah! So we're gonna dive into the book in just a little bit, but Corynne, I'd love to hear a little bit of your faith journey. I note that on your site, you mention that your convert to Catholicism. I am always so inspired when I meet women who returned back to the faith or who come to see God in this way, but I'll let you share a little bit of your journey.
04:30 CORYNNE: Yeah, so I am a convert to Catholicism from evangelicalism. So I came into the church in 2014, and I grew up in a really strong evangelical, non-denominational home with like...you know, we kind of, like a lot of non-denominational Christians too I think, we kind of jumped around! And you know I've been at different denominational churches, but I think overall we maintained, like, a pretty good spirit of like 'well, if you love Jesus and that's all that matters.' So that was sort of my, I suppose, how you could describe what my faith was, except I really did not like Catholicism. I thought Catholicism was particularly evil and like sort of just symbolic of everything I didn't like in the faith. So the church, I think, was this sort of legalistic, cold institution that wanted to sort of oppress women and use them for reproduction, as a really [laughs] really harsh stereotypical view of the church, but that's sort of where I was coming from.
So, in the high school, I think [at the] start of my senior year, I started dating my husband who was Catholic. And I knew Nick, my husband, was smart and loved God and I just figured like you know, we're going to date and I'm going to be able to show him that like this is not where he needs to be. This is not where he's going to find God. And it just sort of went the opposite way, except Nick wasn't really in it to like try and get me out of my faith. I was very much in our relationship thinking like, "This is an error that needs to be corrected." So every time Nick and I would like sit—and Nick and I were like very good friends for a few years before we started dating—so when we started dating, we were like, "Okay, we need to talk about our differences." And every time you know I posed like one of the classic, evangelical questions of the faith—"Well, you worship Mary or you pray to the saints, like when the Bible does it say that?" Yeah, he always responded to me with like such gentleness and humility, and you know it always led to greater conversations. We spent like a ton of our early years in our relationship, him sending me Catholic Answers articles and me just kind of like stewing over those and doing tons of study and research.
Anyway, it just became very clear to me, I think, that Catholicism was much more than I thought it was, and it's much more than I think it's often treated as too. It does kind of turn into this cultural stamp and anything more than that, any more...if you get deeper into Catholicism, that word is problematic. But for me, I think, as I started to like learn theology and vision behind the church, it became more clear that this is something so beautiful and so old and so different than like I'd ever heard before. And it was just, it's just really wonderful that that whole year was my senior year of high school—like of all times to go through a conversion! It was just this really exciting, beautiful new thing. A new way of seeing the world. And I think Catholicism really answered... yeah, we were going through some troubles, I think, with the church, my family and I were at that time. And I think finding Catholicism at that time really helped me to be able to see and grasp my faith and my relationship with God in this new way.
I came into the church my freshman year of college, but I did not really know any other Catholics and definitely not Catholic women! I think because I didn't know many Catholic women, I still had like some reservations about what is the church actually teach about women? [laughs] Like, carrying, you know, those questions, all my concerns I had about the church before I came into the church, just carrying those in the back of my mind, of like, well, hopefully, hopefully this doesn't turn out too bad. Came into the church, you know, learned more, went to... transferred to Franciscan University where I studied theology and philosophy and really got to know the faith more deeply, and you know, it just became clear to me that my understanding of what Catholic womanhood was was so wrong. But also that, you know, I really wanted to create a space that would illustrate and show a diverse range of stories and Catholic women, that would really show like the beauty and the diversity of the many different ways in which we as women live out the faith. So that's my conversion story, but it's so deeply tied to the origin story for The Catholic Woman, too. That desire to really know other Catholic women and really understand what, you know, Catholic—meaning universal—what does our faith, as a universal faith, truly look like lived out universally across the world, across America? Yeah, The Catholic Woman sort of started out of that desire from my conversion.
09:01 RACHEL: That's so beautiful! I mean, I think that even within Catholic circles... because I think of, you know, my own journey. Just as you share your journey and as I reflect on my own as well, even as a cradle Catholic, just having those misconceptions that you note about how women are only meant to either just carry babies and raise the children and cook at home and that's it. And of course, like I wanna note too that you know, homemaking is in itself so beautiful. It is a wonderful way to live out your femininity. But I think the misconception being that that was the only way. You know, it was the only way to be a quote unquote "good" or "right" Catholic woman and I was curious to know like just as you were in those early stages of forming The Catholic Woman, can you think back to maybe the very first, or one of the few, Catholic women that you did come across that really inspired you to live out your faith and kind of realize that, oh there is more to Catholic femininity, Catholic womanhood?
09:58 CORYNNE: Oh man, that's such a good question. There are so many, I think... let me highlight this woman in particular. One of my professors at Franciscan, Dr. [Patricia] Donohue—who is no longer at Franciscan—but I think she spent her last year, my senior year, there. She is a theology and philosophy professor at Franciscan, and she was really the one, I think, that kind of introduced me to John Paul II's writings in a more deeper, deeper way. And she also really helped me to study—to basically like get rooted in a Catholic worldview, but also to be able to study and make sense of other thinkers from that vantage point. So she introduced me to a lot of feminist thinkers and then helped me like learn how to think with them and like walk with feminist thinking, while remaining true to the faith and being able to dialogue and and make sense of these different ways of thinking. So, I think she... I mean she's yeah, like, a main part of the reason why The Catholic Woman exists, for me personally.
But I think she just kind of, you know, she was one of the few female faculty members at Franciscan, too. There aren't too many women on staff and and I think just her example, her presence of being there and teaching young women was huge and very much an example of, you know, living out the feminine genius in this particular way. So she was huge, a huge influence in this and I think has very much helped me remain really committed and rooted to our church, but also open armed to other people who are not Catholic, and being able to like actually have conversations with them, and be able to like, make sense of the world and people who aren't Catholic, from a Catholic vantage point and with the charity of a Catholic with the charity of Christ. So, she's definitely one woman that comes to mind for that.
And I would even say my mom, too, even though my mom is not Catholic. But my mom has always had a very strong, you know freewill, free-thinking spirit about her that I'm sure has absolutely inspired me and helped make me want to create a project like this, I think.
12:07 RACHEL: I love that, yeah. Just going back to, you know, our mothers. Just how they've nurtured us they've raised us. So that's so important, and you know, kind of that love it took to raise you, but also, you know, to go back to Dr. Donohue as well, like just to really form your mind and to inspire you in that way. I find that to be so inspiring. And you mentioned John Paul II there, of course. And we're huge fans of JP2! You know, he mentions in his Letter to Women that concept of how women are able to really—gonna totally paraphrase—but see the other person really for who they are and receive them. And I think that's exactly what you're kind of alluding to when it comes to being able to dialogue, you know. Especially in our day and age now I feel like it's everybody yelling at each other and then everybody kind of shuts down when differences arise. And how beautiful it is, for us as women, to really hold each other in space, to wade through the uncomfortable parts, but also take the time to listen and recognize the dignity of the other person and be able to journey and dialogue with them in that process.
13:15 CORYNNE: Yes, absolutely. And I think, like, that's exactly what Christ calls us to do, is to walk with people who maybe are on the margins or not in the church. You know, we're called to love them and be with them and walk with them. So, yeah, my studies, I think, were a really great example of like the shape... of like, what that looks like. So, yeah!
13:34 RACHEL: And then in terms of getting The Catholic Woman going—because I think, as with anything, like whether it's like a nonprofit, like you're referring to, or like a podcast, a business, whatever it might be. There's always like the conception and dreaming about it, but then of course, God calls us to action, He calls us to execute whatever it is that we're doing. So, what was that like to go from this idea, this stirring in your heart to actually launching this into what it is now?
14:02 CORYNNE: Yeah! Oh gosh, yeah, I love what you just said. It's like, you can have all of the dreams, but God does call you to action. And I, I think that this whole process, it's been very cool to go, to learn that and to become disciplined in that. To be able to take all these dreams and really bring them to life. So for us... let's se. So I applied to the GIVEN Forum, which is put on by the GIVEN Institute. The GIVEN Forum is their conference, and they had their very first one in 2016. So I applied to go to that and in order to go to the GIVEN Forum, you have to basically submit an action plan, like a proposal for something that you want to do. It can really be anything just something that would basically allow you to serve the people around you. Really, very cool. Absolutely love that.
So I was a senior in college when I applied, and actually didn't really know what I was going to do afterwards. I was a, I'd been a photographer, professional photographer, for a long time so I knew we'd do that to make money but I didn't know, you know how... I wanted to do something else that I didn't really know what. So [I] applied for that, got accepted, went to the conference. And my action plan was sort of like the rough draft of what you see now The Catholic Woman. Very much out of like this spirit of the 'new feminism' that John Paul II wrote about. Just wanting to create a place that really promoted the dignity and the unique story of every woman and the equality of women, you know, really creating a beautiful space for that. So, went to the GIVEN Forum, that was big. And then I think they gave us, like, a nine month deadline for when you had to have your action plan launched.
So those, over those nine months was a lot of time just kind of figuring out, you know, what we would do. My husband, as I mentioned before, does cinematography and directing. So I knew I wanted to do videos with him for this. So we brainstormed sort of the mini documentary component of The Catholic Woman, because we do put out films. And then later, I think, closer to launch in March, I decided to do letters as well. So the letters were sort of last second, add on, but I just started reaching out to a bunch of friends last minute. Like we wanted to release on March 8, International Women's Day, but—and then I thought of this letters idea last minute, so asked a bunch of my friends to write letters. Then after we started publishing those, you know, we started to kind of form anaudience and find more people beyond that and it kind of has turned into what it is today. So that's like a pretty broad summary of how it all started. But yeah!
16:38 RACHEL: Yeah, and how beautiful like just the different mediums that you're able to—media, I guess—that you're able to tap into just to share and showcase the diversity. But in particular I do want to hone in on like this letters portion, just because like I had no idea that it was maybe a last minute addition to the project in itself, but you know, just how fitting it is right like John Paul II wrote Letter to Women in 1995, and I love how that's like a little homage back to that! It's so deeply personal—like I've had the opportunity to read so many just over the time and I know that a couple of my friends and my peers have submitted and had them published. But I was just wondering what that experience has been like for you, and I'm sure your team as well. As you go through, you must receive so many on a regular basis, especially a couple years out now it's become so popular. But what is it been like to just kinda sift through and read through, like just so many beautiful portraits of Catholic femininity. But also just given the nature of what I've seen published, it's so intimate and very raw sometimes. So yeah, like just your thoughts on that and your reflection on that.
17:49 CORYNNE: Yeah! When we first started the letters, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I was just like, "Yeah, we'll just, you know, I'm just trying to find like different mediums we can use. We did films, and we'll have writing, essays as well and we'll just kind of do this and we'll just go with it!" [laughs] That was sort of my thinking the first few months. And then, over the past four years, it's just changed so much and grown so much. I've grown so much, I think.
Like I said, I didn't know what I was getting into. I'm an editor, basically, that's like probably the bulk of my role is editing different pieces now, editing and writing. And when I started, I had no aspirations to be an editor just sort of one of the surface cool, beautiful platform that women could come to and find solace in. So it's been really cool to end up being an editor over the past few years. It's sort of, you know I'm an amateur, to be sure, but to be able to like help women tell their stories and it's just a real honour, I think. And as you mentioned, yeah, like a lot of the content is, it gets very, very deeply personal and some of it is very raw. There have been women that have shared stories that are just, you know, they've been like traumatic experiences in their lives that like God has come and helped them kind of make sense of.
So it's just... looking at this past year the probably the past two years is sort of been the timeframe I really started to take my role as an editor seriously and same with our team. We've got, we have a team now, all volunteer editors over the past two years. And I just think being able to sit and read, line by line, through someone's story, and even be able to like, have the opportunity to, you know, affirm different ways they're thinking about their life and their story. And then also, in turn like, to be able to help them think maybe a little bit differently about something, and maybe you know—this doesn't always happen, but even like to bring that into light of like a different teaching of the church or even scripture—I think there's a real spiritual ministry aspect to being an editor that I would have never expected in this role. So yeah, it's really cool. It's really wonderful. I absolutely love it, and I would have never guessed that [laughs] that I would end up being an editor.
20:09 RACHEL: I know, y,eah like the Lord many times, we just have no idea where we're going to go! And I find it particularly poignant like you mentioned right at the end there, off of a previous thing that you mentioned that, as you were getting ready to graduate from Franciscan that you weren't totally sure what was going to come next. And I find it to be so incredible that the Lord had... you know, you had these stirrings about what does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be a Catholic woman or, yeah, just like a woman in general, and how He's been able to really help you weave through that, and I'm sure like as you've learned more about it yourself, like what does that mean for you...
20:48 CORYNNE: Yeah.
20:48 RACHEL: And now being like one of—in North America—like, one of the leading publications are the leading areas where, like you said, women can find solace and they can find opportunity to see different facets of Catholic femininity and for them to find a place where they too can really rest in their own God-given identity. And who would have seen that coming? But also the fact that if you hadn't said yes and taken that leap of faith, like where would we be right now? Like I'm sure there would have been other things, but just this place that you've taken in the church. Like I'm just so grateful for that! Just to see that long lens of, you know, this is what had happened and this is where we are now. So I just want to commend you for that and thank you for stepping into it.
21:31 CORYNNE: Thanks! Thank you, yeah it's it's crazy to think about in retrospect. There were a few moments where it almost just didn't happen and I reflect on those moments a lot, and think about where, where would I be today? Where would, you know, even like the landscape of Catholic social media and Catholic women's online ministry be today? Where would it be today? So it's it's been really cool to think about that.
21:54 RACHEL: Right! As you mentioned, just off the top of her interview as well like we're about to, at the time that we're recording this, about to embark into, I guess like a deepening of that with A Place to Belong, so this book. And I know that there's also—like you've been working alongside Pauline Books and Media, so the Daughters of St. Paul. But I was wondering if you could share a little bit about the inspiration behind this book and we're all that is going.
22:20 CORYNNE: Yeah! So, you know, in a way this book is just a natural extension of sort of how The Catholic Woman started. Essentially wanting to create something tangible, beyond the online realm, something tangible that women can have in their homes and in their hands.
A Place to Belong is organized in this particularly unique way. It's in five different categories—and I think I'm going to get these out of order—but they are receive, create, nurture, protect, and lead. Each category, you know, represents a different chapter in the book, and then there are basically different letters for each one from different women who are living out like very different vocations and very different states of life sort of reflecting on how they live out these... illumine these different ways of understanding femininity. I think the categories for this book were really important to me personally when I was first like coming up with idea. It really important to me personally because when we think about gender, when we think about masculinity and femininity, we tend to think about each in like terms of explicit traits. You know, we think about masculinity in terms of like the typical stuff: assertiveness, ambition, even creativity, courageousness, that's more of a virtue. And then for women, you know, we tend to think of humility, charity, meekness, kindness. And all these virtues are very good, but I think, you know, we tend to think about experience in terms of roles and I don't know if that really, truly gets to the heart of what, you know, at least what John Paul II, how he's proposed and understood sort of the feminine and masculine geniuses. I think they're much more a matter of personhood, of disposition, of just being an embodied person in the world.
So, what I mean by that, I guess, is for me, I'm a woman. I have a female body. My body is naturally oriented toward life, towards creating life, whether that ever comes to fruition or not or whether there are like obstacles in that process. This is just the way my body is. And naturally, like to some extent, that's going to form my self, my personality, and who I am. And I think that's sort of how you can start to understand, you know, maybe like what femininity is and then that feminine genius, I think—and I think this is what John Paul II is getting at—it's that natural disposition then to care for life, that women have because my body is already oriented towards being attentive to the human person, you know, there's that natural disposition to that virtue, towards that goodness. So that said, that looks I think a little bit different than thinking about femininity in terms of a gender role, and thinking about women in terms of like, what they do and what they're like personality-wise. Instead it's more of this disposition to care for life, which is pretty broad, and it's more of a statement about our meaning than it is about each of our individual personalities and vocations and callings and all that jazz.
So, with this book, I sort of had these different categories, as I was kind of getting at before,you know I think men and women can live out all of the virtues. Like women can be courageous, you know, look at St. Joan of Arc, she's an obvious example. Women can be ambitious and assertive, and certainly, you know, there are some things that like women and will be a little bit more inclined—may, in general, be more inclined towards than men. But we are all called to about these different virtues! So that said with this book, I really wanted to create different categories that I think sort of get into these different ideas, these different roles that we typically associate with one gender over the other. And instead, you know, show that like, there are all different ways we can live out these virtues as women, and we're still women. We can still live them out with our feminine genius. So, you know, in particular—I'm thinking of the categories like lead and protect, those are two of the five categories in the book, those are generally what was that we tend to associate with men. But there are ways in which women uniquely lead and uniquely protect others.
So I really wanted to show that, I think, with this book. To be able to kind of explore the feminine genius in a way that I don't think, often gets explored and although, you know, this isn't... I think you and many others are doing like a great job at this. I think if you just look at sort of the history of Christian women's ministry resources a lot of them kind of get into these different major gender roles. So with this I really wanted to show the beauty and complexity of the feminine genius, to really help women who might feel like, I don't fit into what I generally think of when I think of the Catholic woman, I don't really fit into the church, I'm sort of like, you know, I'm awkward or I'm this or that, you know, and I just wanted to create a book that I think shows that grandness, like the man different ways that the feminine genius can be lived out. So very excited for us both come out and so excited to kind of have it be a witness that in some way!
27:28 RACHEL: You know, you've done such a wonderful job, I think, like yourself and many others to really set up the field, so to speak. Just because I think like you said, if you look historically over Christian woman, Catholic women's ministry has grown and it's changed. Like I think that... I find it interesting, just because it does really like mirror like this idea that we see this wave of feminism and we see how like, it's kind of swung from one end to a very extreme end of the pendulum in terms of being radicalized and whatnot. But so many times, women and men too, but particularly woman, sometimes we get scared off by that term 'feminism' just because of maybe some of the difficult or the radical connotation that it takes. But you're absolutely right in the sense that there are women who are, you know, we're fierce and protectors, we're able to lead. And it's true that many of those traits are sometimes attributed to like the quote unquote "masculine genius." But that's not to say that we can't do it, but it's kind of like, how we find that balance and just recognize within ourselves like okay, who is it that God has made me to be in a way that is not necessarily like striving or trying to force ourselves, just because we may feel that they don't kind of fit in or whatnot.
28:46 CORYNNE: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think Sr. Theresa Aletheia, who is the editor on this project and you also may know her from lots of other wonderful things like her Memento Mori books. So she was the editor on this project and we interviewed her a few years ago, and we specifically talked about the feminine genius and she had this great quote about how, you know, men and women can live out the same virtues and live out similar roles, but the way in which they do so, they just do it differently because these different geniuses. Aand I think like that's a nice cool way, a great starting point of like understanding then like what's the Catholic worldview on these sorts of things.
29:23 RACHEL: Yeah, and I think it also it goes back to the genius of God Himself, like the complementarity of the beings of the sexes and just how Adam, like, he had his pick of the animals in terms of finding company and his animals but it was so clear from the beginning that they were not suitable helpmates. And then what does God do like create women and we see that lived out then and we see it now. And I do think that it's unfortunate when, you know, women tried to kind of like stomp over men. And it's true that women have had such a difficult time in history, to be seen, to be understood, to be known. But then to go the totally opposite end of the spectrum and kind of step over as opposed to collaborating. And we know that we need men's help, so we need each other. We need to work together with one another.
And I think it also ties back to something that I was kind of mentioning to you before we hit record about in the logo of The Catholic Woman—like I wanted to quickly touch on this—I'm not sure if listeners have ever zoomed into it, but I remember that not too long ago I did. I was just like is that just a line or is there something there and it says, and I want to make sure that I get it right, but it says 'sisterhood' and 'solidarity'. And I can't think of two better terms to really sum up just a wonderful project that you and your team have have really brought to the forefront when it comes to talking about womanhood in the Catholic Church. And yeah like, just in an era where there is, it seems like there is a lot of competition, comparison, you know, we kind of just mindlessly scroll through Instagram and we kind of feel ourselves... yeah, feeling tugged in a way to be like, "Why is it that so-and-so is able to do something, but I'm not?" or vice versa. Yeah, I was just wondering if you could speak to what that those aspects and those traits of how the feminine in the concept of solidarity and sisterhood.
31:16 CORYNNE: Yeah. You know I didn't necessarily start The Catholic Woman to be a source standing against that like spirit of competition and comparison that I think can come up on Instagram. But I do think it does sort of stand a testament to that. Like it does... we have this huge collection of letters, of stories from women of all different sorts of backgrounds, all different gifts, all different stories, really. And being able to see that, like, sort of—this is sort of how I describe it in my letter in the book—being able to see women and each of our stories as a sort of mosaic, and being able to like kind of look at ourselves and be like, "Where's my story in all this? Where's my role in all of this?" instead of thinking like, "How can I be like this person?" you know, in like a competitive way. Yeah, I don't know, I think it can kind of like stand against that and kind of just show a different way of looking at this and I think the way that Christ wants us to look at each other: that we're brothers and sisters in Christ, not in competition with one another. So I hope all of these very personal stories that we do share, help cultivate that sort of spirit, you know.
32:25 RACHEL: Yeah, and it kind of dawned on me too, just as you're saying that. The whole familial aspect of yeah, sisterhood, brotherhood. The fact that it's like a family unit, and like you said, we're all God's children, we're called to really take care of one another and to serve one another. But that mosaic image that you used, I think it's gonna stick with me for a long time because I think it's such a beautiful way to describe, you know, like we ourselves are not exempt from the long story of salvation history. We all have a particular part to play that can't be transferred to someone else and if we were missing, there would be a pretty significant gap. And I could say that about you, I can say that about myself and anyone who's listening. So it really does take all of us and I am so grateful that you had really like brought that up to the forefront. So thank you.
33:15 CORYNNE: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think, really, Catholic Social Teaching, if you look up the social compendium of the Catholic Church, it's a wonderful document that I think more people need to know about. But you can kind of get this wonderful description of solidarity there and about what that looks like. And I think, you know, perhaps that's something we can be thinking about or reflecting on when we do use social media [and] there's sort of that temptation to be jealous of one another or compare ourselves to one another. Yeah, yeah.
33:45 RACHEL: Yeah, it calls me to action as well and I think it just makes me so excited to be a Catholic woman and I think just as we tie it all together, in terms of your own journey and where you've seen yourself go and where you hope to go in terms of beyond this project with The Catholic Woman, how have you seen your own feminine genius flourish?
34:07 CORYNNE: Yeah, that's a great question, and something I've been thinking a lot more about lately. Feminine genius is sort of that orientation to tend to life and care for others. And you know, naturally I think whenever you pursue holiness as a woman or as a man, you're naturally going to go ahead and live out the feminine genius or the masculine genius. I think it's that particular way that each of us live out holiness. You know, for me, even thinking about some of the initiatives that are on my plate right now, you know, we have this program coming out later this year—the release date to be determined—called "Cultivating Catholic Feminism" which is a project that I've, like, just long been passionate about and it's so exciting to see it come together right now. But, you know, the goal of this project is to kind of explore what John Paul II meant by a "new feminism" when he proposed it throughout his papacy. What is a true Christian feminism truly look like?
And our program writer, Abigail Favale, who is wonderful! Highly recommend looking up her work if you're not familiar with it. She's a former, sort of, progressive feminist—that's probably a better Catholic word for it—but a progressive feminist academic who converted to Catholicism, and has just this really awesome conversion story and she has this great line at the end of the program, one of the final scripts, about how like, if we're going to create a Catholic feminism, it can't just be [laughs] like a feminist donkey with like Catholicism as like the tail on the donkey! It has to be like a fully Catholic thing, a fully Catholic movement. And, you know like as Catholics, we believe in the equality of women and we can see that the dignity and equality of women is not understood universally. There are plenty of places in our societies where we very obviously see that gap.
I just think, you know for me personally—to bring this back to how I'm living out the feminine genius—I think I probably have a pretty strong desire to, I think, protect that dignity and also protect the equality, to be able to really promote that. Because I don't think—I think you said this earlier in the interview—but being able to really see the person and really being able to see women and understand them and not just sort of treat them as a monolith. Or, you know, there are plenty of terrible ideologies about women out there today! [laughs] So many, and through history! One of my favorite things from John Paul II and Letter to Women is that he apologizes for all of the terrible things that have been done to women and in the way that members of the church has been a part of that. I think for me personally I have a very strong desire to, you know, protect that dignity and help others understand the dignity and equality of men and women and see that, so. And I think that The Catholic Woman, you know, this has just been one large initiative to show that dignity and beauty of that dignity and the beauty of women's stories, so yeah!
36:49 RACHEL: I love all of that and just what a wonderful gift and just a wonderful opportunity. And again I just remind all listeners that, you know, there is The Feminine Genius Podcast, there is The Catholic Woman and there are so many other organizations and groups out there who are fighting for the dignity of women and who are really doing such incredible work. So you know, I as always encourage you to check out the work that different guests do, but particularly I will encourage all of you to check out what The Catholic Woman is doing, and also to really check out the different things that women are doing. And if you find that there's something that you feel might be missing, to really look within yourself and I challenge you to take that on as well. See where God will lead you with that. But Corynne, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for what you're doing! As I mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of The Catholic Woman and what you all are doing! But yeah, if you wouldn't mind closing this out in a prayer?
37:45 CORYNNE: Yeah, absolutely! In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear God, thank you so much for this time together. Thank you for each of our stories and for the gift of listening and being able to receive each other and learn from each other's stories. God, Thank you for the gift of women and femininity and thank you so much for the church, and for the, sort of preservation of that dignity, and the meaning of womenhood. God, I just ask that there is a renewal for the understanding of the unique dignity and equality of women worldwide. I ask that you help each of us better understand how we can help promote that and how we can really stand for the truth that you made each of us in your image and likeness, God. Thank you for making us in your image and likeness. Thank you for making us good and for making us whole in our lives. Help us to love one another, and to love you, to live in solidarity with one another. Amen.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
38:57 RACHEL: Corynne, thank you!
38:59 CORYNNE: Yeah! Thanks so much for having me on, Rachel!
39:06 RACHEL: A big thank you to Corynne Staresinic for joining me on The Feminine Genius Podcast today! You can learn more about The Catholic Woman by checking out their website, thecatholicwoman.co. They have beautiful letters, interviews and other resources that touch on the diversity of women's experience in the church. And of course you can also learn more about their new book, A Place to Belong. They're on Instagram @thecatholicwoman and on Facebook @TheCatholicWoman.co. You can also find Corynne on Instagram, @corynnestaresinic. I've left all of these links in the episode description below.
You can stay up to date with The Feminine Genius Podcast by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we're @femgeniuspod. And you can listen to this podcast wherever you find your podcast, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and many other platforms. All this information can be found on our home on the web, femininegeniuspodcast.com.
We'll talk to you soon, and God bless, always!