Kevin Ahern Closes Chapter as International President of Catholic Lay Movement

Pope Francis recognized the work Ahern has done in international Catholicism.

Kevin Ahern portrait photoIt’s been an eventful five years for Kevin Ahern, Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies at Manhattan College.

From 2017 to 2021, Ahern served as the international president of The International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, otherwise known as ICMICA-Pax Romana.

Ahern’s term concluded in December 2021, the 100th anniversary of the Pax Romana movement. Prior to the movement’s annual meeting last month, Pope Francis himself offered a note of recognition and well wishes.

Cardinal Piertro Paraoin, the Secretary of State of the Vatican, provided a message on behalf of Pope Francis to the group, saying in part, “It is his hope that this meeting will contribute to the formation of future leaders in academic and professional life who, inspired by the truth and beauty of our faith, will cooperate in the extension of Christ’s kingdom and in shaping a society of ever greater justice, peace and fraternal solidarity.”

Ahern’s five years as president of the movement has allowed him to collaborate with Catholic professors, professionals and others in more than 60 countries. 

“At the heart of the vision of ICMICA-Pax Romana is an awareness that college or university education carries with it a responsibility to place what you have learned in service to the world and the church,” said Ahern. “As president of this global lay movement, I have had the chance to work with some inspiring professionals and intellectuals who are involved in working to transform the world and church in a diversity of local communities, from Australia to Zimbabwe.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic challenged our work in many ways, it also opened up new possibilities as we used new technologies to create online training programs, cross-continental liturgies, and a series of virtual visits with local groups. During this difficult pandemic, when so many of us have felt isolated and alone, our movement offered a space of community to help remind our members that we are not alone.”

ICMICA is a global community of lay Catholic intellectuals and professionals engaged in the world with a spirituality of action. Inspired by the Gospel and the Catholic social tradition, the group’s mission is “to live our faith by engaging the challenges of our times.” 

As a movement, ICMICA is committed to the option for the poor, integral human development, interreligious dialogue, and the empowerment of women and young professionals. ICMICA brings together professionals, small communities and national movements to support one another across borders and to offer a voice in international forums, including the Vatican and the United Nations system.

By Pete McHugh