Professor Father Michael J Kelly SJ. was born in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland, 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 moved to Zambia and has 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.
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 is a renowned speaker and advocate on HIV and AIDS, and has 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. He is also active in other policy areas, such as strategies for HIV prevention, and human rights. A prolific researcher and writer, Father Michael has authored 15 books, and many original research articles. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Father Michael has worked as a consultant to organisations such as the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, the FAO, UNAIDS, Oxfam, Irish Aid, and many more.
Among the many honours in recognition of his outstanding work, Father Michael was awarded Honorary Degrees by University College Dublin in 2006 and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in 2012. You can view Father Michael’s speech in acceptance of his Honorary Doctorate at RCSI below:
Father Michael was also honoured by the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign and Trade for his work on HIV and AIDS, and he also recently received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.
Since 2006, Irish Aid has honoured Father Michael’s achievements through the Annual Father Michael Kelly HIV/AIDS Event, often timed to coincide with World AIDS Day (1st December).