Onaiyekan: The Clergy, Crusader And Cardinal

“Nigeria recently made yet another history with the
appointment of the Catholic Archbishop of the
Metropolitan See, Abuja, His Grace Archbishop John
Olorumfemi Oniyekan to the rank of Cardinal in the
Catholic Church by the Catholic Pontiff, Pope
Benedict XVI , Onyebuchi Ezigbo digs into the rich
profile of the uncommon Clergy which spans
through various aspects of life including education
and teaching career, Church appointments, CAN
Presidency other social works”
Fate must have been so kind to the newly
appointed Cardinal John Olorumfemi Onaiyekan
who until his latest elevation has served as the
Archibishop of the Abuja Catholic Arcdiocese for
over 18 years.
On Tuesday, September 18, 2012, Archbishop
Onaiyekan was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to
serve as one of the papally-appointed Synod
Fathers for the upcoming October 2012 Ordinary
General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the
New Evangelisation. He will be created a Cardinal
by Pope Benedict XVI in a consistory on 24
November 2012.
The ebullient, unassumingly confident and humble
Onaiyekan could not have imagined what fate had
in stock for him as toddler born into the ancient city
of Kabba in Kogi State on January 29, 1944. Life
began on a very challenging note as young
Onaiyekan commenced his Primary School
education at home in 1946 and between 1957 and
1962, he attended Secondary School at St. Michael’s
Secondary School, Aliade. Benue State. In line with
his passion for God’s ministry work, youthful John
did not waste time in joining the SS. Peter and Paul
Major Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan to study of
Philosophy from 1963 to 1965 . In October 1980,
Pope John Paul II gave Onaiyekan a five-year
appointment to the Pontifical International
Theological Commission in Rome and in November
the same year, he joined the International Catholic/
Methodist Dialogue Commission. He completed his
religious studies in Rome in 1969, and was ordained
as a priest. As a young Priest, Onaiyekan taught at
St. Kizito’s College, Isanlu in 1969. He later
became rector of St. Clement Junior Seminary in
Lokoja in 1971. He finished his Licentiate of Sacred
Scripture in 1973 and earned his doctorate in 1976.
He became Vice Rector of SS. Peter & Paul in 1977,
a position that afforded him the opportunity he has
been waiting for to impart the knowledge so far
gathered onto the younger ones.
Cardinal Onaiyekan’s priesthood formation also
saw him attending further Theology courses at the
Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda Fide, Rome
from September 1965 to June 1969. He was
ordained as bishop on January 6, 1983, and became
the Bishop of Ilorin, Kwara State. In 1990 he
became Co-Adjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Abuja,
and when the diocese became a Metropolitan See in
1994, John Onaiyekan became the Metropolitan of
Abuja. Onaiyekan was elected to the position of
Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference
of Nigeria (CBCN) in 1994, and President of that
organization in 2000.
As a social crusader, Cardinal Onaiyekan plays
very active roles in building bridges across religious
and socio-political divides. He is one of the
outstanding voices of reason both in times of
religious conflict and political crisis. While some
members of his constituency may choose to hide
their face or remain numb during challenging times,
Onaiyekan would rather take on the challenge
boldly trying to broker a way forward. He is known
as one who is not afraid to speak to power in the
face, especially on matters affecting the welfare
and justice for the masses. For his boldness and
sincerity, the 68 year old Cardinal has wielded
enormous influence within government circles and
among his religious community. An educationist,
Onaiyekan has spearheaded the establishment of
many mission schools under the Abuja Archdiocese.
No wonder he recently was named Pax Christi
International’s 2012 Peace Laureate. He was many
times a member of Council of the General
Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican
and also once a member of the Standing
Committee of the Faith and Order Commission of
the World Council of Churches.
On December 18th, 2001, Onaiyekan was conferred
with the national honour of the Commander of the
Order of the Niger (CON) by President Olusegun
Obasanjo and on May 2003: he bagged the honour
of Grande Ufficiale (1 Classe): Ordine della Stella
della Solidarieta Italiana, Conferred by President
Carlo A. Ciampi of Italy. Other posts held by the
religious icon of our time include, President,
Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria, from March
1999 – March 2006., President, Association of
Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa
(AECAWA), from August 2001, President,
Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and
Madagascar, (SECAM) from October 2004 , January
2007, Member of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council
(NIREC) since September 1999, Co-President,
African Council of Religious Leaders, (ACRL) since
June 2003, Vice-President of the Christian
Association of Nigeria (CAN) from 1996 to 2003,
between June 2007 to June 2009 when Onaiyekan
served as President of the Christian Association of
Nigeria, (CAN) and Co-President of the Nigerian
Inter-religious Council.:


  1. Hi! I've been following your blog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the good work!
    Also see my webpage - mobile phones for sale

  2. Excellent article. I absolutely love this website.
    Continue the good work!
    Take a look at my weblog ; Discount Coupons


Powered by Blogger.