Ontario pro-lifers are mourning the death of Eunice Morgan, whom friends and family say put the word “active” in activist.
A long-time supporter of both Campaign Life Coalition and Toronto Right to Life, Morgan was famous for her monthly meetings on issues affecting life, family and faith, held the first Thursday of each month.
Rachel Di Fonzo told The Interim her mother saw abortion as the number one problem facing society and couldn’t just stand around and do nothing about the evil she saw so prevalent in the world.
“She was pro-life to the core,” Di Fonzo said. “She talked about it at home, talked about it with others. She went to all the conferences, Life Chain and, until recently, the March for Life in Ottawa. If there was an event, she was there.”
But more than just attend the meetings, conferences and events of others, she organized a monthly meeting she hosted at her home, bringing in guest speakers and calling regular attendees days before the meeting to remind them to come out. The first meeting was held 15 years ago and no one can remember a month which was skipped.
Joan Spencley of Toronto told The Interim the meetings were both informative and fun. “They focused on issues that affect life, the family and the Catholic Church because that is what mattered most to her,” Spencley said. “She thought everyone needed to be informed about these issues.”
Di Fonzo said there was only one non-Catholic speaker (former REAL Women President Judy Anderson) and often featured priests such as Fr. Ted Colleton and Fr. Stephen Sommerville.
Spencley added that after the speaker’s presentation, the crowd of (usually) 20-30 people would enjoy refreshments and camaraderie, the latter which was considered as important as the issue discussed earlier in the evening. “Eunice knew it was important for like-minded people, people concerned about the future of the Church, the destruction of life and the threats to the family, to be together.”
Toronto pro-life activist and Catholic bookseller Clayton Lee told The Interim the companionship was “almost as important as the presentations” and reported meetings dozens of people. “She loved people, she loved having people there,” he said.
He said Morgan “was like a mother to me,” saying that before he was married, she would take him into her home and feed him. “She was a great cook.” More importantly, “she was concerned about my spiritual development.”
Lee described the mission of the meetings as Morgan “trying to do her little part spreading the truth.”
In their national newsletter, Campaign Life Coalition said the Toronto chapter of the organization would never schedule their local activists meetings on the same day as Morgan’s monthly meeting because fewer people would come out to their own event, such was the popularity of Morgan’s speakers.
But Morgan was more than the organizer and host of a monthly meeting.
Spencley remembers a woman who was at times not the easiest to get along with but who was fiercely loyal and a good friend. Spencley recalls arguing with Morgan, who during a visit had yelled at her cat.
Spencley castigated her, saying no one can treat her pet that way. “You don’t yell at animals,” she intoned. Morgan refused to apologize. But when the two were taking theology classes earlier this summer, Morgan was adamant that she save a “seat for her friend Joan.” She also recalled her first meeting with Morgan following a rescue in the 1980s. Spencley was introduced to Morgan who “grunted and walked away.” It was, Spencley noted, “the beginning of a great, long and sometimes strange friendship.”
Despite the quirks – including phoning friends to ask them to bring whatever they were preparing for dinner that afternoon for an impromptu pot luck – Spencley says, “I loved her so much. There will never be another Eunice.”
While Morgan cannot be replaced, some of her friends are hoping to continue the monthly meetings. Di Fonzo says its would be a nice tribute to the work her mother began. The fact is, she always intended for others to take the idea of regular meetings on the vital issues back to their communities to inform and motivate an ever-growing circle of activists.