LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Destiny Morris, 16, is used to being a dependable leader, but typically from the sidelines.
The Mercy Academy junior manages the varsity basketball team, and she's even a stage manager of the school's theatre club.
While she sees the spotlight as class vice president, Morris enjoys seeing things come together, and putting in the work to make it happen. But being the one at the forefront? Not too much.
“I'll do the work in the background and like, ‘okay, now who's gonna do it,’” Morris said.
So, imagine her surprise when she was chosen among dozens of Catholic teens across the country to deliver a speech to Pope Francis.
“It made me feel really good,” Morris said. “I was like, ‘Are you sure you want me to speak?’”
Morris is part of the National Catholic Youth Advisory Council, an organization that supports young Catholics in every state and encourages them to use their voice.
Morris used hers to ask the pope to listen to young Catholics, weigh in on social justice issues and continue to make them feel included.
However, she didn't reach this point without hesitation.
“I actually wasn't going to do it at first,” Morris recalled.
But when the Archdiocese of Louisville nominated her to the council, Morris knew she had to answer the call.
“I really just wanted to show the importance of a young black Catholic in the church because you don't see that a lot,” she said.
And then, when her peers called on her to speak to him, she couldn't stay silent.
“That was really an honor because to know that your peers appreciate your voice and you do - it's just amazing,” Morris said.
While her week-long pilgrimage in Rome was beautiful, filled with amazing sights; it was also insightful, and not just because she spoke with ‘His Holiness.’
“I think I found my gift, and I think I was searching for that,” Morris said. And I think this trip helped me nurture my gift in figuring out that I'm an advocate for other people.”
Morris said her days of speaking up are not over. Next, she said she's going to California to speak at the National Catholic Youth Conference.