Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan

2008 - 2011
His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan was born on January 29th, 1944 in Kabba, Kogi State of Nigeria. Intelligent right from his tender age, he began his Primary School education from 1949 at his home town Kabba. His academic prowess heightened at Mount St. Michael’s Secondary

His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan was born on January 29th, 1944 in Kabba, Kogi State of Nigeria. Intelligent right from his tender age, he began his Primary School education from 1949 at his home town Kabba. His academic prowess heightened at Mount St. Michael’s Secondary School, Aliade, Benue State Nigeria between 1957 and 1962 where he had distinctions in his SSCE; a record no one has yet broken in that school.

 

His priestly formation commenced in January 1963 with Studies in Philosophy at the prestigious SS. Peter and Paul Major Seminary Bodija, Ibadan Nigeria; and from Sept. 1965 to June 1969, he studied Theology at the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda Fide, Rome.  Cardinal Onaiyekan’s early priestly life began with his ordination to the Catholic Priesthood at his home town Kabba, on 3rd August, 1969. He taught at St. Kizito’s college, Isanlu before proceeding for Scripture Studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Biblicum) Rome in Sept. 1971, and completed his Licentiate degree programme in Sacred Scriptures in Feb. 1973. Between February 1973 and January 1976, Cardinal John studied and obtained a Doctorate degree at the Pontifical Urban University, Rome in Biblical Theology with full distinction.

 

From that moment, divine providence plotted the graph for Cardinal Onaiyekan’s steady rise on the ladder of ecclesiastical leadership. On his return from Rome in January 1966, he was made the Rector of St. Clement’s Junior Seminary Lokoja, Kogi State Nigeria where he served until August 1977. In Sept. 1977 Onaiyekan was appointed Vice Rector of the Major Seminary of SS. Peter and Paul, Bodija Ibadan Nigeria (his alma mater) and teacher of Sacred Scripture and Fundamental Theology. Onaiyekan became the Rector of the same seminary in Feb. 1978.

 

In November. 1982 and at the age of 38, Pope Saint John Paull II appointed Cardinal John the Auxiliary Bishop of Ilorin and ordained him in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome in January 6th 1983. By this appointment and episcopal ordination, he thus became the second youngest Bishop in Nigeria after Cardinal Arinze.

 

Being the Metropolitan Archbishop of Abuja, He welcomed Pope Saint John Paul II on his Apostolic Visit to Nigeria in 1998 and was a key proponent in the beatification of Blessed Francis Iwene Tansi. In the consistory of 24 November 2012, he was created and proclaimed cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus.

 

His Eminence participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis. His Eminence is a member of the highest ranking Vatican Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for the Family.

He served as President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), between 2007 and 2010; the apex body of all Christians in the country.