RIGHT Rev. (Dr.) John Okeoghene Afareha was born in 1947 into the family of late Mr. Edward Afareha and late Mrs. Rebecca Afareha of Oleh in Isoko South local government area of Delta State. He lost his mother in his early childhood, and was brought up by a step mother, Mrs. Angelina Afareha. Apart from Most Rev. Afareha, the family is blessed with Rev. Sister Theresa Maris Afareha of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Christ.
Young John started school at St. John De Baptist School, Oleh, from 1953 to 1959 where the seed which later blossomed into a religious calling was sowed. He was filled with admiration for the religious (priests and seminarians) especially for their excellent, disciplined and religious upbringing of children then. Afareha became a mass server there and his performance was remarkably noticed by the parish priest, who took particular interest in moulding him. His first meeting of a Nigerian priest was a pleasant surprise and it awakened the desire to be a priest, though still a child.
He attended Modern School, Ozoro, from 1960 to 1961. He still had an inner spiritual call and coupled with the inspiration he drew, especially from Rev. Fr. O. Regan, he decided to become a priest. He entered Minor Seminary, Benin City in 1962 and finished in 1966. He proceeded to Ss Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan, where he studied from 1967-1973.
He was ordained priest on December 30, 1973, by the late bishop emeritus of Warri Diocese, Rt. Rev. Lucas Nwaeza-pu. The young Rev. Fr. John Afareha, after his ordination had his apostolate work in the following places: Holy Martyrs of Uganda Seminary, Effurun; and the same year was posted to Sacred Heart Cathedral, Warri, where he remained till 1975. He taught at Government College, Bomadi from 1975-1977; St. Theresa’s Girls Grammar School, Ughelli from 1977-1980, Evwreni Teacher’s College, Evwreni, from 1984-1985.
Afareha proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he obtained a post-graduate diploma in Education in 1986; and later the University of Port Harcourt where he bagged a master’s degree in education in 1990.
As an educationist, the new bishop served as a principal in the following schools: Otokutu Grammar School, Otokutu (1980); Owevwe Secondary School from 1980 to 1982, St. Peter and Paul Major Seminary from 1983 to 1984, where he spent his spiritual year; Umuajia Secondary School, Umuajia, 1985 and Ovu Grammar School, Ovu, 1985.
He distinguished himself as a dedicated and disciplined teacher, and his immense contribution in administration as Principal Inspector of’ Education under the Religion Education Department in then Bendel State, at the Ministry of Education Office, Ughelli from 1985 to 1991 was remarkable.
Afareha moved to the Sacred Heart parish, Abraka, in 1991, from where he was posted to St. Anthony’s parish, Ugborikoko the following year. He has been the Diocesan Spiritual Director of Legion of Mary, Blue Army and Block Rosary and the Provincial Chaplain of Legion of Mary. His love for our mother, Mary, knows no bounds as Daily Rosary at 5:30 p.m. supercedes everything he does.
He is actively involved in the completion of St. Anthony’s Church, Ugbori-koko, and is presently constructing a new Rev. Father’s House. Despite his crowded schedule as a parish priest and spiritual director, he still finds time to reading and play lawn tennis.
Rev. Fr. Afareha, shortly after ordination, converted his pagan parents to the Catholic faith. Today, his youngest sister, Sr. Theresa Maris is a reverend sister of the Eucharistic Order.
In 1997, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Warri Diocese by Pope John Paul II and was consecrated bishop by Jozef Cardinal Tomko, Prefect, Sacred Congregation for the Evangelisation of People on the May 14, 1997. On March 29, 2010, Afareha was appointed bishop of Warri Diocese by Pope Benedict XVI and was installed on March 30, 2010 by His Grace Most Rev. Alaba Job, Archbishop of Ibadan Archdiocese and president of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria.