Kevin Irwin

Academic Areas

  • Historical and Systematic Theology
  • Liturgical Studies/Sacramental Theology
  • School

  • School of Theology and Religious Studies
  • Expertise

  • Liturgical Theology
  • Sacramental Method
  • Biography

    Monsignor Kevin W. Irwin is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. Serving on The Catholic University of America faculty for over thirty years, Msgr. Irwin held the Walter J. Schmitz, Chair of Liturgical Studies from 2000-2015, served as the Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies from 2005-2011, and currently holds the position of Ordinary Research Professor.

    Msgr. Irwin is the author of twenty-two books on liturgy and sacraments, including Liturgy, Prayer and Spirituality (Paulist, 1984), the three volume commentary on the liturgical seasons entitled, Advent-Christmas, Lent and Easter: A Guide to Eucharist and Hours (Pueblo/Liturgical Press, 1985-1991), Liturgical Theology: A Primer (Liturgical Press, 1990), Context and Text: Method in Liturgical Theology (Liturgical Press, 1994) revised edition 2018, a work co-edited with Dr. Edmund Pellgrino entitled Preserving the Creation: Environmental Theology and Ethics (Georgetown Press, 1994, which contains Msgr. Irwin’s own contribution on the sacramentality of creation and the role of creation in liturgy and sacraments), Models of the Eucharist (Paulist Press, 2005) revised edition 2020, the revision of 101 Questions on the Mass (Paulist Press, 2012, orig. 1999), Serving the Body of Christ: The Magisterium on Eucharist and Ordained Priesthood (Paulist Press, 2013), and What We Have Done, What We Have Failed To Do: Assessing the Liturgical Reforms of Vatican II (Paulist Press, 2014, awarded second place by the Catholic Press Association).

    Msgr. Irwin’s most recent books are The Sacraments: Historical Foundations and Liturgical Theology (Paulist Press, 2016, awarded first place by the Catholic Press Association) and A Commentary on Laudato Si': Examining the Background, Contributions, Implementation, and Future of Pope Francis's Encyclical (Paulist Press, 2016).  Pope Francis and the Liturgy: The Call to Holiness and Mission (Paulist, 2019). his latest manuscript is at the press entitled Liturgy and Sacraments in a Covid World: Renewal not Restoration, due out in early 2021). Most recently he wrote the “Introduction” to  the Paulist Press edition of Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Fratelli tutti.

    Msgr. Irwin’s other main research and publishing interests are on the principles of mediation and sacramentality and the role of creation in liturgy and sacraments. His work on creation and sacramentality in the past decade involves participation in the USCCB’s annual scholars’ conferences on ecology, the environment, and climate change, where he delivered major papers entitled “The World as God's Icon: Creation, Sacramentality and Liturgy” (1997) and “God’s Icon: Creation, Liturgy, and Spirituality” (2012, subsequently published in Environmental Justice and Climate Change, ed. J. Schaefer and T. Winwright, Lexington Books, 2013). His research in this area has also led to his current commentary work on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.

    Among his over seventy articles, Msgr. Irwin is the author of the major articles on “Sacramental Theology” for the revised edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia, on "Sacrament" for the New Dictionary of Theology, on "Liturgical Theology" for the New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship, and on "Liturgy" for the New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality; his contributions to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Supplement, Vol. 18, include the articles on "Sacramental Theology" and "Eucharistic Theology." He is also the author of approximately ninety reviews in such journals as Worship, The Thomist, Pastoral Music, Eglise et théologie, La Maison Dieu, American Benedictine Review, Theological Studies, Louvain Studies, Liturgical Ministry, The Jurist, New Theology Review, Studia Liturgica, American Catholic Historical Review, and La Maison Dieu. In 2014, he was named Associate Editor of Ecclesia Orans.

    Msgr. Irwin has served as an Advisor to the United States Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship since November 2004, a role he also held in the 1990’s. His recent work for the committee includes the statement Stewards of the Tradition—Fifty Years After Sacrosanctum Concilium, issued by the USCCB in 2013. He served for a decade as an Advisor to the Bishops' Committee on the Permanent Diaconate. In November 2006, Msgr. Irwin was named to the international committee (under the sponsorship of Bishop Arthur Roache, Chair of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) charged with writing and producing an interactive DVD entitled Become One Body One Spirit in Christ on the theology, spirituality, and history of the Mass to accompany the publication of the revised English language translation of The Roman Missal.

    Msgr. Irwin is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the Society for Catholic Liturgy. In 2012 he received the Jubilate Deo award from the National Association for Pastoral Musicians, and in 2014 he was awarded the McManus Award from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.

    Over the past decade Msgr. Irwin has presented addresses and papers to international academic gatherings. He gave the major address on sacramentality at his alma mater, the Benedictine University of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome (May 2007), and most recently he gave a lecture on “The Theological Keys of Sacrosanctum Concilium” at the Symposium on Sacrosanctum Concilium sponsored by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and held at the Lateran University in Rome (18-22 February 2014).

    In addition to his international presentations, Msgr. Irwin has presented to numerous national audiences, including over forty-five dioceses in the United States. Such presentations include his 2009 lecture at The Catholic University of America entitled “Which Liturgy is the Church’s Liturgy?” (published in Origins), the NOCERCC keynote address “Priestly Sanctification and Ministerial Spirituality” in San Jose, CA (2010), the lecture “Evaluating Sacrosanctum Concilium” for the Mundelein lectures of the Archdiocese of Chicago (2010, published in Chicago Studies), the main address for the Center for Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame entitled “The Mystery of the Incarnation: Advent-Christmas-Epiphany” (2010), the presentations “From the Missale Romanum to the Sacramentary for Mass to The Roman Missal” and "What We Pray, What We Believe, How We Live" at Youngstown, OH (2011), the lecture “What We Have Done, What We Have Failed to Do: Toward a New Liturgical Movement” at The Catholic University of America (2011),  and the presentations “What, Then, Is the Liturgy?” at Conception Abbey (2014) and “Seminary Curriculum and the Benedictine Charism” at Mt. Angel Abbey (2015).

    In addition to his academic work, Msgr. Irwin regularly celebrates Mass and preaches at Holy Trinity Parish in Washington, D.C. and at the Church of Saint Bridget in Richmond, VA. In spring 2013 Msgr. Irwin taught in the CUAbroad program in Rome and, while there, was a regular commentator on CNN and other media outlets on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis. His eighteen blog entries about the conclave can be found on the CUA website here.


    • A Celebrant's Guide to the New Sacramentary

      A Celebrant's Guide to the New Sacramentary

      A Celebrant's Guide to the New Sacramentary, Cycle A, B, and C

      Learn More
    • Sunday Worship

      Sunday Worship

      Sunday Worship. A Planning Guide to Celebration

      Learn More
    • Liturgy, Prayer, and Spirituality

      Liturgy, Prayer, and Spirituality

      Liturgy, Prayer, and Spirituality

      Learn More
    • Lent


      Lent: A Guide to the Eucharist and Hours

      Learn More
    • Advent-Christmas


      Advent-Christmas: A Guide to the Eucharist and Hours

      Learn More
    • Easter


      Easter: A Guide to the Eucharist and Hours

      Learn More
    • Liturgical Theology

      Liturgical Theology

      Liturgical Theology: A Primer

      Learn More
    • Context and Text

      Context and Text

      Context and Text. Method in Liturgical Theology

      Learn More
    • Responses to 101 Questions on the Mass

      Responses to 101 Questions on the Mass

      Responses to 101 Questions on the Mass

      Learn More
    • Models of the Eucharist

      Models of the Eucharist

      Models of the Eucharist

      Learn More
    See more publications