Elizabeth Musso enjoyed her first Feminine Genius Brunch so much that she decided to bring her sister visiting from North Carolina to the next one.
They were among the 350 women from 130 parishes at Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook for the event sponsored by the Sisters of Life and the archdiocesan Respect Life Office.
“I just love the Sisters of Life,” said the 61-year-old parishioner of St. Mary, Mother of the Church in Fishkill, who attended with her sister Christine Sanson.
“They are so inspirational. They are always smiling and very pure of heart. They are genuine, very caring and non-judgmental. They just embrace people.”
This was the third Feminine Genius Brunch; a fourth is planned for the spring in the Rockland and Orange counties region. Sister Virginia Joy, S.V., director for the Respect Life Office, told CNY it was inspiring to see women of all ages, including teenagers, with a desire to grow in their faith.
“No matter where you are in life’s journey, God’s plan is unique and personal,” she said. “His call for each one of us is this personal, profound, lasting call, and I think that’s appealing. We want to know we’re wanted and desired. The human heart desires to find its place. So I think coming today, there is a hope of answering the deepest questions in the human heart—who am I, why am I and what is the plan for my life.”
Sister Charity, S.V., assistant director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Office, opened the event with prayer and two exercises—the first having a woman turn to the woman next to her to share why she came, and the second to look at the woman next to her to say she was open to what God wants to give them today.
“The beautiful thing is no matter why you have come today, whatever your reason for coming, God has something special in store for you today,” Sister Charity told the women.
“He’s been thinking about this day and dreaming for you what he wants to give you today.”
Sister Virginia delivered a 45-minute talk following brunch.
“As women, we have a unique capacity for love—a receptive love, a generous love, a sensitive love and a maternal love,” Sister Virginia said in her speech. “St. John Paul II would say in order to fashion a society marked by love, it is absolutely necessary for women to tap into this unique capacity and really foster its growth. The Church and the world are very much in need of your love.”
Sister Virginia divided her talk into two parts. Receptivity was the first because in order to receive love and love others, a woman must receive the gift of who she is. The second are the unique receptive qualities each woman possesses in generosity, sensitivity and maternity.
Sister Virginia closed with a message to women that St. Pope Paul VI delivered at Vatican II.
“Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world,” she said.
Mary O’Reilly, 64, attended her first Feminine Genius Brunch after seeing it advertised in her parish bulletin.
“I just knew it would be an inspirational talk, and just always find the Sisters of Life inspirational. I love the work they do,” said the parishioner of St. Joseph in Somers, who has done volunteer work with the Sisters of Life at St. Paul the Apostle in Yonkers.
Beth Caneveri, 56, felt renewed following her first Feminine Genius Brunch and took additional people along to experience her second one.
“When we came the first time, it was such an amazing experience to listen to the testimonies and the nuns,” said the parishioner of St. John the Evangelist in Pawling. “It was so spirit-filled and amazing. We felt very renewed after leaving, really able to focus on what our purpose and intent is as Catholic women and as daughters of God.”
Beth’s daughter in law, Caitlin Caneveri, was attending for the first time.
“I am so happy to be here,” said Mrs. Caneveri, 24. “Just being surrounded by so many women who feel the same presence of God in their life or trying to feel a stronger presence or strong connection is so motivating to fall deeper into our faith.
“I’m looking forward to (the next one) already.”