The launch of the cause of sainthood of Fr Antoine Marie Garin SM will take place with a Mass on the 14th April 2016, at St. Michael’s Church, 6 Beatrice Rd, Remuera Auckland at 7-30 p.m.
The launch, sponsored by an Auckland lay group is taking place there because Fr Garin founded the parishes of Howick and Panmure.
The main Celebrant of the Mass will be Fr Mervyn Duffy SM.
After making his profession as a member of the Society of Mary, in 1840 Garin was assigned to New Zealand, where he arrived with 10 other members of the society on the Mary Grey at the Bay of Islands on 14 June 1841.
He was provincial of the Marists in New Zealand from 1841 to 1843 and, despite Pompallier’s growing antagonism to the society, he was nomonated several times to Rome as a possible bishop.
In late 1843 Garin was sent to the Kaipara mission station at Mangakahia, near Tangiteroria.
In 1847 he was appointed to the pensioner soldier settlements at Howick, Panmure and Otahuhu, where over half the families were Irish Catholics.
In 1850, after the quarrels between Bishop Pompallier and the Marists, Garin accompanied Bishop Philippe Viard to Wellington.
He was assigned to Nelson where he remained for the next 40 years.
He had the pastoral care of 200 – 300 Catholics scattered over the huge area of Nelson, Buller, Marlborough and the northern part of the region that became Westland.
He journeyed constantly to visit his people, on both foot and horseback, often inflicting great privations on his not over robust constitution.
He was responsible for education early in Nelson’s history and opened orphanages for both boys and girls as early as 1872.
In 1876 he gave lectures to the citizens of Nelson for a fee to raise funds to purchase land for a boy’s orphanage. The sum collected was thirteen pounds.
Father Garin kept daily records of parish life, along with letters he wrote to various bodies, parishioners and to his mother and brother in France.
These are kept in the St Mary’s parish archives in Nelson along with other information about the priest.
Garin died on the 14th April 1889.
His wish was to be buried in St Mary’s Church, Manuka Street, but was denied this by a city ordinance, so was buried at Wakapuaka, in the grave now occupied by his great friend and colleague Brother Claude Marie Bertrand.
When Garin was exhumed 18 months after his death, to be reinterred in the crypt below this chapel his body was found to be incorrupt despite the coffin found filled with water which was the quickest way for a body to decompose.
The vestments had stained pink as the red dye had run in the water and his biretta had fallen slightly forward on his forehead.