Antoine Garin the father of Bibles in schools

The cause of Fr Antoine Garin SM was launched on 14 April at a Mass at St. Michael’s Church, Remuera, Auckland.

The launch, sponsored by an Auckland lay group, acknowledges Fr Garin’s founding of the parishes of Howick and Panmure.

A good number of people were at the launch, including members of every branch of the Marist family, parish representatives from Howick and Panmure and representatives from local Catholic schools.

The father of Bibles in schools

In a country offering free and secular education, Garin was particularly noted nationally for his campaign for the Bible to be lawfully read in class as the last part of an ordinary school course of instruction and for school classrooms to be used for religious instruction outside of school hours.

It was a campaign he won and in 1867, with the support of Oswald Curtis, the Nelson provincial superintendent, the New Zealand Education Act was amended.

Is Garin a saint?

As well as preaching at the Mass, Fr Mervin Duffy posed the question whether Fr Garin was a saint.

Eighteen months after he was buried, Fr Garin’s remains were exhumed and placed in a crypt underneath the chapel.

Despite the coffin being waterlogged, according to those present there was neither sign nor smell of corruption from the body and they all signed a document attesting to these facts.

However Archbishop Redwood wanted the account of Fr Garin’s incorrupt body to remain secret and prevent a cult developing around him.

An incorrupt body or not Fr Garin was a man of great faith, a man who reached out across cultures and who has a popular following.

Duffy told the congregation that many of his contemporaries thought Garin was a saint.

Archbishop Redwood, who conducted his funeral declared “He was indeed a saint, and attracted universal respect, and in many sincere veneration.”

Duffy therefore concluded, “Given his life and deeds, I think I can safely say that if he did not get into heaven then most of the rest of us do not stand much chance”.

To mark the occasion, prayer cards were blessed and distributed with Duffy encouraging people to pray to God through the intercession of Fr Antoine.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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