John McAreavey was born at Drumnagally, Banbridge on 2 February 1949. He is the son of Mary and the late John McAreavey and has two sisters and two brothers. He received his primary education at Ballyvarley School and then the Abbey Primary School, Newry. He received his secondary education at St Colman’s College, Newry. In September 1966 John entered St Patrick’s College, Maynooth where in 1969 he finished a degree in modern languages and in 1972 a degree in Divinity.
John was ordained as priest for the diocese of Dromore by the late Bishop Eugene O’Doherty on 10 June 1973. Fr McAreavey returned to Maynooth after his ordination and completed a licentiate in Theology in 1974. He was a post-graduate student of Canon Law at the Gregorian University of Rome from 1974-1978 when he graduated with a doctorate in Canon Law.
From 1978-1979 Fr McAreavey was on the teaching staff of St Colman’s College Newry. In the latter year he was appointed to the Armagh Regional Marriage Tribunal. He became head on the death of Fr Mulvenna in 1983 and held this post until 1991. Meanwhile he had been appointed in 1988 Professor of Canon Law in the Pontifical University of Maynooth. While there he wrote widely on Church Law, publishing in 1997 The Canon Law of Marriage and the Family. He had served on the Editorial Board of the Irish Theological Quarterly from 1998. He is also a member of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Canon Law Society of America. Since 1994 he has been secretary of the Greenhills Ecumenical Conference Committee.
Throughout his entire ministry John has been involved in the pastoral care of engaged and married couples. A fluent Gaelic speaker [indeed a polyglot] he is a member of the committee of Col