John Christopher was born on the 25th of December, 1922 in Killurin, Killeigh, Co. Offaly. His primary education was at Gortnamona N.S. and for secondary studies he went to C.B.S. Tullamore for a year and then to Knockbeg College, Carlow. He began his Spiritual Year in 1941 and was ordained at Easter, 1948. After ordination, he studied Canon Law in Maynooth and was awarded a Doctorate in this discipline in 1951. In the same year, he joined the staff in Kiltegan as Professor and Dean of students. He relinquished this position in 1959 when he was appointed to the Diocese of Ogoja. He worked there until 1968 as Head of St. Thomas’ Teacher Training College.
In 1968, there was a new development in Kenya with the creation of the Prefecture Apostolic of Lodwar. John was appointed the first Prefect Apostolic. A lot has been written of John’s impact upon the new territory. In this area, there was almost nothing in normal infrastructure and necessary facilities. At its inception the Prefecture faced a major famine problem, and famine relief was high on the agenda. With structures in place to deal with that problem, the question of education for development was faced.
Primary schools soon dotted the area and the necessary secondary schools to cope with the output at primary level soon followed. Girls’ education, hitherto neglected, was soon within the focus of the new Prefect Apostolic. As one scribe had it, “Education has been a major aspect of Bishop Mahon’s contribution to development in Turkana.” Another important element in development was taken care of, in the form of a network of Health Centres, dispensaries, mobile clinics and a fully-equipped hospital. Conventional development projects featured largely in the scheme of things. These included large-scale irrigation schemes, a fisheries project, boreholes to provide a hitherto scarce commodity, elementary co-operatives – all geared towards making the Turkana people self-sufficient.
In 1978, the Prefecture became a Diocese and John Mahon was ordained its first Bishop. His stand for justice often caused problems, but it was all for the welfare of the people entrusted to him, and for the sake of human rights so that these same people could live in dignity. His tenure as Bishop saw a great growth of the Church in Turkana; the requisite church structures were in place by the time he resigned as bishop in March, 2000, having reached the mandatory age of retirement.
For some years he lived in Lodwar and in June, 2004 he went to a Society house in Kitale. He went on leave in July, 2004. On his return he stayed a few days in the Society Theology House in Nairobi and died there suddenly on the 10th of November 2004. He is buried beside the Cathedral in Lodwar.
Place of Rest: Lodwar, Kenya