Discovering the Feminine Genius

By Annabelle Bhandoo, Family & Life Office
Guest Speaker, Anna Krohn at the Feminine Genius talk. Photo: Annabelle Bhandoo.

The Family and Life Office, along with a small team of women organised a Women’s event on 24 October, 2015. Approximately 60 women gathered to hear about ‘The Feminine Genius’, a term which St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) wrote abundantly about, as did St. John Paul II.

The guest speaker was Anna Krohn who is an educator, speaker and writer in the areas of ethics, Catholic theology and spirituality. She is currently the Academic Skills Advisor at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne and Convenor of the Anima Women’s Network.

Anna’s talk on the feminine genius, began by focussing on St. Teresa Benedicta. St. Teresa Benedicta wrote extensively about the dignity of women from a unique philosophical perspective known as phenomenology. She saw that a special unity exists in women between their physical and spiritual nature, combined with their natural desire to give and receive love. She taught that a woman’s soul is inwardly affected by that which happens to the body and her soul shapes her outer being and that women have a very important role in society. She recognised the importance of forming the whole person-mind, body and soul, and learnt from reflecting on the events that were taking place in her life.

St. Teresa Benedicta’s work was developed by St John Paul II in his letter to Women (1995) and in Mulieris Dignitatem (1998). Anna summarised the four central features that St. John Paul II saw as the women’s ‘genius’.

  1. A woman is called to be true to the deep mystery of her created reality. She must first rediscover the wonder of her own “creation” including God’s call to her. The full depth of her talents and dignity, the integrated and redeemed development of her spiritual, bodily, sexual and intellectual powers should be recognised and strongly defended by all.
  1. Women have an enormous capacity to see a person as a “who” not a “what”. When women use their talent for emotional sensitivity in gossip-mongering, manipulation of others and most tragically of all, when they are made to believe they cannot care for the unborn, the needy or themselves, they are being tempted away from this “genius”.
  1. Thirdly, women seem also to be drawn to the creation and protection of special and receptive “spaces”. They seem to know in what places they and others can flourish. They have a maternal instinct.
  1. The fourth and essential aspect of feminine genius is women’s unique and vital complementary contributions and relationships with men. God “intended” humanity to be a collaboration and communion of “the two” male and female. Men and women, though they complement each other, are different.

Morning tea was served, then in small groups the women discussed how their own feminine genius can contribute to society.

Anna launched Anima in the Diocese of Parramatta. Anima is a voluntary women’s network aimed at encouraging each woman to be the best she can be while recognising her own dignity as a woman. It is for women of all ages, vocations and organisations within the Church.

From the positive feedback on the Feminine Genius event, it shows that there is a real need for women to have the opportunity to come together socially and to be formed spiritually.


Next event: Karen Doyle will speak about ‘The Genius Project’ on Saturday 12 March. Visit the Family and Life Office Website: for upcoming details.

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