By, Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor
Kevin Ahern, Ph.D, finished up his presidential term of The International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs — also known as ICMICA Pax Romana — this past December. The achievements the group had during Ahern’s time in this role were recognized in a personal statement released by Pope Francis.
According to their website, ICMICA Pax Romana is “a global community of Catholic intellectuals and professionals engaged in the world with a spirituality of action.”
Ahern’s position as president allowed him to connect various regions of the world in the movement towards uplifting the Catholic church and its values.
“One of my jobs was to coordinate the communication,” Ahern said. “So, we had more than 65 national organizations, some university professors, some scientists and engineers, other professionals who are committed to social justice and social transformation. These national groups, a lot of them operate kind of independently. So, the role as the international team was to coordinate communication between them, especially between groups from different continents.”
Beginning at Fordham University, where he received his bachelor’s degree, Ahern has always been passionate about student’s organizing for and representing the church in larger conversations of social justice. He plans on continuing to help students mobilize in the movement following the conclusion of his presidential term.
“I’m staying involved, especially in trying to work with organizing students in the United States to be involved in the student movement that’s connect- ed to ICMICA,” Ahern said. “So we have a student movement called the International Movement of Catholic Students. This is a network that’s trying to mobilize students to work for social conservation and justice. So I’m hoping to sort of work with students at Manhattan College and other places to get them involved in sort of global organizing, and I think that’s important. There’s a lot to learn from that.”
The group was recognized by Pope Francis for their efforts towards social justice in a statement sent on his behalf from Cardinal Pietro Paraoin, the secretary of state of the Vatican.
“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,” Pete McHugh wrote in an article featured on manhattan.edu.
Reverend Thomas Franks, college chaplain, has known Ahern since their years together at Fordham University, where they began their work towards uplifting the Catholic Church and its social justice goals. Franks believes the statement from Pope Francis is a testament to his, and the entire movement’s, commitment.
“I think it’s fabulous,” Franks said. “I know, Dr. Ahern has such a deep commitment to and love for the church. And I think that’s why, you know, he’s worked with the Pax Romana group over these five years in his presidency and prior to that, as a student, leader and programming, you know. He really sees the role of everyone in the life of the church contributing to it and for everyone bettering the world. So I think, you know, getting the acknowledgement from Pope Francis, as they were preparing for their meeting as he was transitioning out of the presidency was well deserved, and I think, a beautiful moment for him.”
Ahern will remain involved in the ICMICA in the future, hoping to continue inspiring students around the world to organize and recognize their ability to change society.
“I really want to work with students and prioritize, trying to help work with students interested and social organizing, especially related to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and social justice, and network those students with students and other countries, to see how they can work together and maybe give students opportunities to advocate on behalf of college students at the United Nations,” Ahern said. “The other thing I’d like to do is to continue to work with faculty, colleagues and spaces to reflect on, you know, what does it mean to be a faculty member at a college and what are our social and ethical responsibilities in the world today?”