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Lawyer Picked To Head Archdiocese Peace And Justice Commission

Archbishop Robert Carlson of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
(St. Louis Public Radio file photo)
Archbishop Robert Carlson of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis has named a director for its re-established Peace and Justice Commission, also known as the human rights commission. Marie Kenyon will lead the group, which will address rights issues throughout the 11 counties that make up the Archdiocese of St. Louis. As director, Kenyon will build a commission that will address racial tensions, poverty and education access.

Kenyon is the managing attorney of Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry. It works under Catholic Charities, representing low income individuals in mostly immigration and civil matters. Kenyon started the program in 1987.

“What I bring to the commission is having worked with issues of poverty and race and lack of education and lack of adequate health care and lack of employment every day, day in-day out for almost 30 years,” she says. “So when the archbishop asked me to take this position, I was excited because I think it’s a chance for me to take what I’ve been doing on a day-to-day, case-by-case basis and really look at the same issue but from a systemic viewpoint.”  

The archdiocese established the Human Rights Commission in 1963 and it was disbanded under Archbishop Raymond Burke, who served here from 2003-08.

Following the shooting death of Michael Brown, at a Mass for Peace and Justice on Aug. 20, Archbishop Robert Carlson outlined steps to "dismantle systemic racism." Among those was re-building a commission on human rights.

“I urge this new commission to assist the citizens and public officials throughout all 11 counties of our archdiocese in the effort to achieve peace and justice for all,” Carlson said in a release announcing Kenyon’s appointment.

Kenyon won’t take on the task of working for peace and justice for all alone. One of her first actions as director will be finding members to serve on the commission.

Kenyon say she wants the commission to be a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds who are committed to the work.