By Eric Connolly
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
John F. Kennedy. Robert F. Kennedy.
Three of the biggest names in the
American civil rights movement, all of
them remarkable in how they lived, all
Father Jerry Lowney, who is a diocesan
priest and Carroll College sociology professor
emeritus, found his life intertwined with
On Jan. 17, Martin
Luther King Jr. Day,
recounted how his life
intersected with the
lives of the Kennedys
and King. At Carroll’s
annual Martin Luther
King Jr. Day celebration,
gave a lecture titled “Social Justice: For
Life, For a Lifetime.”
He said that during his lifetime he
encountered violent racism and discrimination
inflicted by the Ku Klux Klan while he
lived in the South. Father Lowney also
marched for civil rights in North Carolina
and Alabama, campaigned for both John F.
Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy and was
with Robert F. Kennedy when he was shot
in 1968, in Los Angeles.
The King observance at Carroll also featured
remarks by Lt. Gov. John
Bohlinger and Sen. Carol Williams, the
Missoula Democrat who is the state
Senate’s minority leader.
The day began with midday Mass celebrated
by Father Lowney, followed by
Carroll College students and faculty volunteering
at God’s Love
homeless shelter and at
the community food
bank, Helena Food Share.
In an interview
with The Montana
Lowney spoke about
the importance of
“It’s important to remember what
Martin Luther King did, and how it changed
our whole country, and continues to do
that,” he said.
“When I speak on campus, sometimes
students don’t know how blacks were treated,
they only know degrees of it.”
“We always have to be alert, because
there is still prejudice. There’s still prejudice
against black people, and there’s a
great deal of prejudice toward people who
are Hispanic in our country, especially with
what we see along the (United States-
Father Lowney, who has long pressed
for abolition of the death penalty in
Montana, also expressed hope.
“Today was just fantastic,” he said. “We
had 50 some students at God’s Love and
Food Share. Students, I think universally,
are more active that way than ever, looking
to help other people. They’re the best generation
I’ve ever seen.”
As the day of remembrance and service
came to a close, Father Lowney succinctly
responded to a question from among the
people who had gathered.
“We have to accept everybody,” he said.
“We are all God’s people.”
Published in The Montana Catholic Online, Volume 27, No. 1, January 21, 2011.