The Catholic University of America

Rev. Msgr. Kevin W. Irwin, M.Div. S.T.D.  
– Ordinary Professor of Liturgical Studies/Sacramental Theology
– The Msgr. Walter J. Schmitz, S. S. Professor of Liturgical Studies



Monsignor Kevin W. Irwin is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and served as the Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America. He holds the Walter J. Schmitz, Chair of Liturgical Studies.

Msgr. Irwin is the author of sixteen books on liturgy and sacraments, including Liturgy, Prayer and Spirituality (Paulist, 1984), Liturgical Theology: A Primer (Liturgical Press, 1990), Context and Text: Method in Liturgical Theology (Liturgical Press, 1994), the three volume commentary on the liturgical seasons entitled, Advent-Christmas, Lent and Easter: A Guide to Eucharist and Hours (Pueblo/Liturgical Press,1985-91), and Responses to 101 Questions on the Mass (Paulist, 1999, revised 2012). In addition, the Georgetown University Press has published Preserving the Creation: Environmental Theology and Ethics, which Msgr. Irwin has co-edited with Dr. Edmund Pellegrino containing an essay by Msgr. Irwin on the sacramentality of creation and the role of creation in liturgy and sacraments. His most recent books have been published by Paulist Press. They include Models of the Eucharist (2005), a revised edition of 101 Questions and Answers on the Mass (2012), Serving the Body of Christ, The Magisterium on Eucharist and Ordained Priesthood (2013) and What We Have Done, What We Have Failed To Do Assessing the Liturgical Reforms of Vatican II (2014).

At present Msgr. Irwin is writing a (text)book entitled Sacraments: History and Theology for the Paulist Press and is contracted to revise Context and Text for the Liturgical Press.His other main research and publishing interests are on the principles of mediation and sacramentality and the role of creation in liturgy and sacraments.

From 1995-99 he participated in the annual scholar's conferences sponsored by the USCCB on Ecology, Environment and Climate Change.  In 1997 he delivered a major paper entitled "The World as God's Icon: Creation, Sacramentality and Liturgy."

He is the author of the major article 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 the author of over fifty articles and sixty 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.

Since November 2004 Monsignor Irwin has served as an Advisor to the United States Bishops Committee on Divine Worship, a role he also held in the 1990s. He also served for a decade as an advisor to the Bishops' Committee on the Permanent Diaconate.

In November 2006, Msgr. Irwin was named to an international committee (under the sponsorship of Bishop Arthur Roache of Leeds, England, as Chair of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) charged with writing and producing an interactive DVD on the theology, spirituality, and history of the Mass to accompany the publication of the revised English language translation of The Roman Missal. The DVD resource is entitled Become One Body One Spirit in Christ.

He is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the Catholic Academy of Liturgy, the Society for Catholic Liturgy, and the Catholic Theological Society of America

Msgr. Irwin has lectured in over forty-five dioceses in the Unites States in the past five years, often presenting papers at clergy conferences and meetings of church professionals. In May 2007, he gave the major address on sacramentality at his alma mater, the Benedictine University of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. In February 2009, his lecture given at CUA was published in Origins entitled, “Which Liturgy is the Church’s Liturgy?” In February 2010, he delivered a keynote address entitled “Priestly Sanctification and Ministerial Spirituality: Presiding and Preaching at the Sacred Liturgy in the Life of the Priest” for NOCERCC convention in San Jose, CA. In March 2010, he delivered the Mundelein lectures, “Evaluating Sacrosanctum Concilium: Context, Text and Unfinished Business” and “Implementing Sacrosanctum Concilium: Undertaken and Unfinished” for the Archdiocese of Chicago on the Liturgy Constitution of Vatican II, which was published in the summer 2010 edition of Chicago Studies. In June 2010, he gave the main address “The Mystery of the Incarnation: Advent-Christmas-Epiphany” on the liturgical year for the Center for Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. In February 2011, he gave a presentation entitled, “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. In March 2011, he gave a lecture entitled, “What We Have Done, What We Have Failed to Do: Toward a New Liturgical Movement” at The Catholic University of America.

His most recent presentation to an international audience was at the Symposium on Sacrosacntum Concilium sponsored by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, held at the Lateran University in Rome, Feb. 18-22, 2014.  The Title of his lecture was "The Theological Keys of Sacrosanctum Concilium."

In addition to his academic work, Msgr. Irwin regularly celebrates Mass and preaches at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. during the week, and on week-ends at the Church of Saint Bridget, Richmond, VA. Msgr. Irwin is presently assisting the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship to draft the statement "Stewards of the Tradition" to coincidewith the fiftieth anniversary of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council to be published by the Committee next fall.

His most recent book is 101 Questions and Answers on the Mass published in October, 2012 by The Paulist Press.

In the 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.  He wrote eighteen blog entries about the conclave which appear on the CUA website here.

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Contact Information

Phone: 202-319-6505
Fax: 202-319-5704

Areas of Expertise

  • Liturgical Theology

  • Sacramental Method

Latest Publications

"What We Have Done, What We Have Failed to Do: Assessing the Liturgical Reforms of Vatican II." New York/Mahwah: Paulist Press, February 2014


TRS 744 Eucharist

TRS 841B Contemporary Sacramental Method

TRS 841C Sacramental Treatises



Course Descriptions


Curriculum Vitae