Renowned Zambian Jesuit priest of Irish origin, Fr. Michael Kelly(92) has died.
This was announced by Fr Leonard Chiti who is the First Provincial for the Jesuits of the Province comprising Zambia, Malawi, Eswatini, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
“It is with great sadness and grief of the loss of our companion, Fr Michael J Kelly SJ,” he wrote.
“Eternal Rest grant unto Michael and may perpetual light shine upon him.”
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 where he has lived and worked for over 50 years, becoming a Zambian citizen.
He worked for many years as headmaster of Canisius Secondary School, one of the earliest centres of learning in Zambia.
The school is located at Chikuni Mission about 10 Km East of Chisekesi town in Monze.
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.
The pioneering work of the Irish Jesuit, as an educator and a campaigner for HIV/AIDS in his adopted home of Zambia.
He is also 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 was 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.
Over the next 60 years, he held a series of appointments across the country, which resulted in his nomination as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zambia in 1980 and a promotion to Professor of Education in 1989.
He worked tirelessly to get rid of the stigma of HIV/AIDS through education and advocacy work across Zambia and further afield.
Fr Kelly has been the recipient of many awards, in Ireland and abroad for his aid work.
In recognition of his contribution to education in Zambia and worldwide HIV advocacy, the Association of Commonwealth Universities presented him with the Symons Award in September 2003.
He has received several honorary degrees including Doctor of Science (2004), from the University of the West Indies, Doctor of Laws from NUI (2006) and an honorory doctorate from the Royal College of Surgeons (2012).
He received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Úachtaráin in November 2012, which honours the Irish diaspora in recognition of its sustained and distinguished service abroad.