by Jill Ragar Esfeld
LAWRENCE — Variety was the spice that flavored this year’s Genius of Women event sponsored by the St. Lawrence Institute for Faith and Culture at Kansas University here.
Both women and men came together to share their talents in honor of the beauty, dignity and gifts of all women.
“The institute was founded to help the church engage the larger culture within the University of Kansas community,” said Father Steve Beseau, director of the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center. “The Genius of Women helps proclaim the truth and beauty of the human person, especially women, through song, drama, art and poetry.”
The center did an open call to the entire KU community for artwork and performance pieces that celebrate women.
The results were as entertaining as they were varied. Anyone privileged to see the show would conclude the KU community is teeming with talent.
The free evening started off with a walk-through exhibit of work by talented KU artists. When the lights dimmed, the audience took its seats and KU Genuine Imitation, an a cappella group, performed, setting the mood for two hours of pure entertainment.
Karen Lombardi, who led the production team along with Ruth Kuefler, was the announcer for the evening. After introducing key team members, she told the audience to “enjoy the variety of gifts and talents we have on display tonight to celebrate with us.”
Byan Thelen, a member of the production team, then read the letter of the late Pope John Paul II to women, which inspired the evening’s theme.
The entertainment lineup was led off by Sister Clara Remartini, evangelization minister with the Apostles of the Interior Life. She shared the language and philosophy of her native Italy by reading a passage from Dante’s “Divine Comedy” in Italian, with an English translation projected on a screen behind her.
The rest of the evening showcased both men and women and included: performances on piano, violin and Irish penny whistle; ballroom dancing; stand-up comedy; singing; and poetry recitals.
Performers gave sometimes emotional explanations of how their contributions related to The Genius of Women. Many performers dedicated their pieces to significant women in their lives.
During intermission, there was a silent auction featuring a work of art by KU student Leanne Tracy, a member of the St. Lawrence community, and an Italian dinner for two prepared by the Apostles of the Interior Life.
The evening concluded with a tribute to Jasmine Pasimio, a talented singer/songwriter who has been involved with the production since its inception in 2007. This year’s show was dedicated to Pasimio, who came in from Chicago to sing “Not Afraid,” a song she wrote specifically for The Genius of Women event.
Lombardi was pleased with the results and felt the efforts of the production team were rewarded with an outstanding evening.
“I thought it went really well,” she said. “I was really happy with the turn-out — there were definitely faces there that I didn’t recognize.
“That is one of our goals — to get people outside of St. Lawrence involved in the show. So that was wonderful to see.”
Father Beseau was equally pleased with the evening’s success.
“Through their sharing of their artistic gifts and talents, members of the KU community are able to honor and promote the genius of women,” he said.