Born: Côte-Saint-André (Isère), May 9, 1822.
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 1, 1841.
Vows: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 1, 1842.
Priestly ordination: Montréal, April 27, 1845.
Died: Lowell, Massachusetts, February 16, 1895.
André-Marie Garin was born in Cote-Saint-Andre, in the diocese of Grenoble, on May 9, 1822. His father, Philippe Garin, was a grocer and his mother’s maiden name was Françoise Emptoz-Falcoz. After studies in the minor seminary of Cote-Saint-Andre and in the major seminary of Grenoble, André-Marie began his novitiate in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on November 1, 1841 and took final vows on November 1, 1842. He continued his studies in the major Seminary of Marseilles and left for Canada in June 1844 in the company of Fr. Eugène Guigues and Pierre Aubert. Bishop de Mazenod informed Fr. Honorat of this departure on June 8 and he added that Guigues was accompanied by “Brother Garin, a delightful Oblate who is not yet a deacon but who will prove to be most useful to the mission.” Having completed his theology in Longueuil, He was ordained priest by Bishop Bourget of Montreal on April 27, 1845.
Some months after his ordination, he left for the missions of Témiscamingue and Abitibi in the company of Fr. Laverlochère. Then, on his return in September 1845, he went to the residence of Saint-Alexis de la Grande-Baie in Saguenay. He then did the missions of the Gulf of Saint Laurence in 1846, 1848, and 1850, those of James Bay in 1847 and Lac Saint-Jean in 1849. He left Saguenay for the residence of Saint-Pierre-Apôtre, Montreal, in 1849 and there he worked as missionary-preacher and overseer of the work on the building of the Church in 1851. He then became the principal missionary of the Baie-James mission (1852-1857). He accompanied Bishop Alexandre Taché of Saint Boniface to Europe in 1856-1857 and, on his return, he was appointed superior and pastor of the parish of Saint Pierre in Plattsburgh, New York (1857-1862) and then of Holy Angels, Buffalo, New York (1862-1865)
He then returned to Quebec and Montreal (1865-1866). Her spent some time in the parish of Saint-Sauveur, Quebec (1866-1867). He then preached a retreat in Lowell in 1868 and that retreat was the origin of the Oblate establishment in that city. He remained there until his death. He is responsible for the building of the churches of the Immaculate Conception for English language parishioners and also the churches of Saint-Joseph and Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the schools for French Canadians. He also took care of Haverhill, Lawrence and North Billerica.
Father Garin preached many missions and retreats in Canada and in the United States. His preaching was mainly in the parishes of Lowell where he was pastor. Fr. Tortel, who wrote his necrological notes has this to say: “His main activity was not giving sermons as such. He had a few sermons for missions or special circumstances as part of his luggage. He had perfected the method of animating his parish by his announcements, his notices and his stories, thus following the example of our older members who drew the success of their missions from these very same sources. It was this type of preaching, simple, familiar, but without getting down to trivialities, that he used to exercise his real teaching and paternal direction. He touched the lives of individuals and families … He was a watchful sentinel whose eyes and ears were open. From Monday to Saturday he thought over what he saw and heard and sometimes, just a few minutes before going into the pulpit, he prepared a warning sign for the dangers that threatened his flock. How many times did Fr. Garin denounce the silly and dangerous pastimes, the dances, the spiritually useless travels advertised in capitals in the newspapers, and he did so to effect. The timbre of his voice was adapted to all occasions: gentleness or acidity, solemnity or familiarity, gravity or humour, but with a note of sympathy always in evidence. Anyone who heard him speak, could never forget him…”
At the beginning of February 1895, a fever obliged him to rest. He was taken to Saint John’s Hospital. On the 14th he received Holy Viaticum. He died on February 16 at the age of 73. His popularity was recognized by those whom he served. The people of Lowell wished to have a monument in his honour. A street of the city was named Garin Terrace. A district and a lake in the Province of Quebec bear his name. The Indians had bestowed the name Milo Taugashit, “the clear voice” on him. His body lies in the Saint Joseph cemetery in Lowell.
and Gaston Carrière, o.m.i.