In Memoriam: Professor Father Michael J. Kelly, 1929 – 2021

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January 16, 2021

In Memoriam: Professor Father Michael J. Kelly, SJ
1929 – 2021

HIV & AIDS ADVOCATE, ACADEMIC, WRITER AND EDUCATOR

“Education is the social vaccine that can combat AIDS”

SUBMIT YOUR TRIBUTE TO FATHER MICHAEL

Irish Global Health Network Executive Director Nadine Ferris-France, the Board of Directors and staff mourn the great loss of Professor Father Michael J Kelly in solidarity with the global HIV and AIDS community today. Father Michael passed away peacefully on Friday morning January 15, 2021 in his adopted country of Zambia.

“He was wise beyond words, his presence, his passion and his sense of humour shining through. His unwaivering commitment to the fight against HIV, in particular his sharp, clear and powerful words on stigma and self-stigma – he had no tolerance for non-tolerance in this world,” Executive Director, Irish Global Health Network, Nadine Ferris France. (Read Full Tribute on the Condolences page here.)

Read some of the tributes pouring in for Father Michael at the following links:

BIOGRAPHY

A native of Tullamore, County Offaly, Professor Father Michael J Kelly SJ. was born in 1929. He studied at University College Dublin and was awarded a B.A. in Maths and Mathematical Physics in 1952, both with first class honours. He went on to receive a licentiate in philosophy in 1955. He then moved to Zambia and lived and worked there for over 50 years, becoming a Zambian citizen. He worked for many years as headmaster of Canislius College in Chiseki in Zambia. 

Each year since 2006, the Irish Global Health Network with support from Irish Aid has marked the legacy of his work through the Irish Aid Annual Professor Father Michael Kelly Lecture on HIV.

  • Visit the dedicated website to Father Michael Kelly (full suite of keynote speeches by Father Michael Kelly since World AIDS Day event was inaugurated)
  • Read more about Professor Father Michael Kelly’s life and work
  • To pay tribute to Father Michael Kelly’s ongoing legacy, the IGHN has produced a compilation of lectures and presentations from 2006-2015, entitled HIV & AIDS – A Deep Human Concern. Download it here
  • Each year since 2006, the legacy of Father Michael’s work has been marked with the Irish Aid Annual Professor Father Michael Kelly Lecture on HIV. You can visit the dedicated site here which lists the full suite of keynote speeches by Father Michael Kelly himself since the event was inaugurated, along with other speaker contributions, videos, photos and reference material
  • Listen to an interview with Father Michael speaking to the Jesuits in Ireland in which he looks back here on his experiences and observations in Zambia.

Just last year, he was featured on a postage stamp as part of a series by An Post to pay tribute to ‘The Irish Abroad’. He appeared alongside such national figures as Edna O’Brien and Mary Elmes. Characteristically witty, he remarked at the time that he could “almost hear the Lord chuckling”. 

Father Michael completed his PhD studies in the area of child and educational psychology in 1974 and subsequently became a senior lecturer and Dean of the School of Education in the University of Zambia (UNZA), in 1975. He served as pro-vice chancellor and deputy vice chancellor and became professor in 1989.

He was a renowned speaker and advocate on HIV and AIDS, and worked tirelessly to educate and promote safe behaviour among youth and those most at risk in Zambia, throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and much further afield. In 2018, he was conferred by the Zambian government with The Order of Distinguished Service by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu for his work.

He was also active in other policy areas, such as strategies for HIV prevention, and human rights. A prolific researcher and writer, Father Michael authored 15 books in his lifetime, and many original research articles. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Father Michael worked as a consultant to organisations such as the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, the FAO, UNAIDS, Oxfam, Irish Aid, and many more.

Each year since 2006, Irish Aid with support from the Irish Global Health Network has marked the legacy of his work through the Irish Aid Annual Professor Father Michael Kelly Lecture on HIV.  You can visit the dedicated site here which lists the full suite of keynote speeches by Father Michael Kelly himself since the event was inaugurated, along with other speaker contributions, videos, photos and reference material.

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