Rachel Wong’s experience at Vancouver Co-op Radio and the CBC has helped her launch her own podcast for Catholic women. Photo courtesy Rachel Wong

Podcast peels back the ‘feminine genius’

  • July 25, 2019

Growing up, Rachel Wong had this image of what a Catholic woman looked like. 

A Catholic woman has a quiet and demure strength. She is sensitive, soft-spoken and wears a lace veil to church. Maybe she’s a homemaker, maybe she has her own career, but the Catholic woman Wong had in her mind was also a one-dimensional stereotype. 

“I think sometimes, as Catholic women, we can get painted into this stereotype and you think, ‘Oh, I’m not holy enough’ or ‘I don’t want to be this beautiful homemaker that just prays the rosary all day,’ ” said Wong. “It feels ridiculous to describe, but I think the stereotype is out there. There are a variety of ways for Catholic womanhood to manifest itself and we are out there.”

The Feminine Genius podcast documents the 23-year-old Wong’s pursuit to paint a more diverse portrait of Catholic womanhood in Canada. Launched earlier this month, she asks Catholic women about how they define their feminine genius.

The term “feminine genius” is often attributed to St. John Paul II as part of a collection of his papal sermons, letters and general teachings which are now singularly known as the Theology of the Body. He describes a “masculine genius” and “feminine genius” that is purposefully designed by God to be complementary to each other. 

Everyone’s feminine genius is unique to who they are, said Wong. She hopes to use her podcast platform to bring together a diverse group of women that reflect the different gifts women bring to the Kingdom of God. 

“If we had a group of women trying to build a house and everyone’s tool kit only had a hammer, we wouldn’t be able to build a house,” she said. “In the same way, I just want to show that everything that we have, that we’ve been given by God, is unique and special and is a part of our feminine genius.”

For her first interview, she knew she had to talk to her friend and pro-life activist Irene De Souza. 

“I’ve always known her as a very religious person and also someone who was very, not just passionate, but knowledgeable about pro-life apologetics,” said Wong. “She has so many great things and inspiring things to say.”

Wong said she is excited for people to also hear her interview with B.C. Catholic writer Agnieszka Ruck. Growing up in Catholic circles, Ruck said she hears the term feminine genius all the time but it did not occur to her to discover this gift in herself. 

“Just to be present in that room when Agnieszka realized that there is something more to that term, especially when you can bring your own meaning to it,” said Wong. “I think that if you just see that term in itself, it can lose meaning but that meaning really comes when you can recognize that in yourself.” 

The idea to create a new podcast felt like it came out of thin air, said Wong. She remembered sitting in Adoration with 700,000 other pilgrims at the Saturday Vigil at World Youth Day Panama in January. 

“It was very wildly different from the rest of my prayer,” she said. “At the time, the idea didn’t manifest itself as a podcast. It was more, ‘Talk to these people,’ or ‘Interview these people.’… Once I got back home, I noticed that when I would be at Mass or in front of the Blessed Sacrament and it would keep coming back.” 

It was April when her ideas began to take shape. Using her experience as a volunteer at Vancouver Co-op Radio and as an intern at CBC radio, she worked on what she needed to make her podcast successful. 

Wong is a fourth-year communications student at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver with a minor in international studies. 

In between her classes, she worked on registering the domain name for her website, she worked on the art and illustrations for her social media and for her 23rd birthday, her parents helped her purchase a new high-end audio recorder. 

The wish list of Catholic women she wants to talk to wasn’t hard to write. She knew so many who were friends, role models and mentors. She said she looks forward to introducing all these women to the rest of the podcast world. 

“I’m hoping that in these conversations, there are some people that can connect to it and every week, I talk to someone different,” said Wong. “I hope other women see themselves in it.” 

The Feminine Genius podcast is available in Apple Podcasts, GooglePlay, Spotify and Soundcloud. More information can also be found on its website, femininegeniuspodcast.com.

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