When 18-year-old Celine Morris of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Barton first showed up at the Vermont Statehouse as an intern with the Vermont Right to Life Committee Inc., her presence “made a buzz” among legislators, said Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of the Montpelier-based pro-life organization.

“It made a buzz that Vermont Right to Life has appeal for young voters,” she said. “Celine represents our timely message.”

Morris, daughter of Maria and Joseph Morris of Barton, is one of 13 siblings, three of whom are adopted. Homeschooled and raised pro-life, she and her family are involved in a host of pro-life activities.

For example, she has participated in the annual January Rally for Life in Montpelier, helps family members place dozens of crosses and pro-life messages on the lawn of St. Paul Church in Barton to commemorate the January anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion and helps her family conduct as baby bottle fund-raising campaign in her parish for the Vermont Right to Life Committee education trust fund.

She helps family and friends conduct bingo fundraisers for the right to life committee at the Orleans County Fair in Barton, participates in parades to promote the pro-life cause and helps sell roses for mothers on Mother’s Day to benefit Vermont Right to Life.

“I’ve been raised prolife,” said Morris, an emergency medical responder who works part time assisting an elderly woman and expected to receive her emergency medical technician certification in May.

As an intern with Vermont Right to Life, she listens to sessions and makes reports to Beerworth, tracks bills and assists with projects. She opened a session of the House with prayer in April.

Rep. Anne B. Donahue (R-Washington-1), a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield, said that as Catholics, “we stand for a universal fabric of life that extends to reaching out to the poor and elderly, working for social justice, working for peace and defending life, [and] our youth are the future for bringing that message to the world.”

Rep. Mary A. Morrissey (R-Bennington-2-2), a parishioner of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington, said Morris brings a young person’s “honest perspective and energy to the discussion about prolife which is so badly needed in the Statehouse.”

The young woman is “like a breath of fresh air, for she is articulate in the delivery of her message, a message that is not often talked about with our youth,” Morrissey said. “Celine’s presence and strong voice at the Statehouse, for me, is a sign of hope for the future of our young people.”

Beerworth has seen an increase in pro-life activism among young adults. Though they are not inclined to attend meetings, they are involved in social media and events to promote a culture of life.

 

Morris, who plans to study political science in the fall at Franciscan University of Steubenville, is concerned for all life from conception to natural death. “No life is more valuable than others,” she said. “I’m here to raise awareness about being prolife, especially as a young person,” she said while sitting at a table in the Statehouse cafeteria on a break from her responsibilities. “There are young people out there who treasure life and respect life.”

She would like to have a half dozen children and emphasizes the importance of family: “They are the ones who always stand by you no matter what.”

Their Catholic faith has brought members of her family closer, she said, as they share devotions like the rosary and Eucharistic adoration.

“I think there is an image of pro-life being a conservative, old-person issue, and that young people are all on board with abortion being just a women’s healthcare issue,” Donahue said. “Seeing young people [involved], and especially a young woman [Morris], reinforces that this is an issue that is never going to go away because there will always be new voices exposing the truth of the dignity of all life.”

Originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

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