Société des Missions Africaines

né le 25 octobre 1871
dans l’archidiocèse de Tuam, Irlande
membre de la SMA en 1893
prêtre le 29 juin 1895
décédé le 18 avril 1896

1895-1896 missionnaire en Côte d’Or
Cape Coast

décédé en mer, le 18 avril 1896,
à l’âge de 25 ans

(biographie en anglais à la suite)

Le père John GARVEY (1895 - 1896)

En mer, le 18 avril 1896, retour à Dieu du jeune père Jean Garvey, à l'âge de 25 ans.

Né en 1871 dans le diocèse de Tuam (Irlande), Jean Garvey fit ses études à Cork et fut ordonné prêtre le 29 juin 1895. Peu après, il partait pour la préfecture de la Côte-de-l'Or. Il fut affecté à Cape-Coast, et le père Albert, préfet apostolique, fondait sur lui les plus belles espérances. A cause de la fièvre, le docteur ordonna son départ pour l'Europe. Le jeune père mourut seul en mer, quelques jours après son embarquement.

Father John GARVEY (1871 - 1896)

John Garvey was born in the archdiocese of Tuam on 25 October 187l. He died at sea, travelling from the Gold Coast (Ghana) to Ireland, on 18 April 1896.

John was fifteen years old when he decided to become a missionary priest in Africa. He received his secondary education at St. Joseph's college, Blackrock Road, Cork, and St Joseph's college Wilton, Cork (to which the secondary school was transferred on 23 March 1889). In September 1891 he went to the Society's seminary at Cours Gambetta, Lyon, France, for his ecclesiastical training. He became a permanent member of the Society in 1893, and was ordained a priest in Lyon, on 29 June 1895. The ceremony took place in the seminary chapel, and the ordaining prelate was Bishop Francois Philippe, bishop of Laritanensis.

After ordination John was assigned to the prefecture of the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast mission had been entrusted to the Society in 1879 after pioneering work by Eugene Murat and Auguste Moreau. It was considered (incorrectly) to be a healthier location than the Society's other West African missions where there had been a high rate of attrition through illness and death. John travelled to Africa with a party of four missionaries, all recently ordained. On his arrival, late in October 1985, he was appointed to the Cape Coast mission. This station (today the seat of an archdiocese) was founded in 1880 by Ernest Granier. We are told that the prefect, Maximilian Albert, had high expectations of his new recruit, all the more so because he had just lost four of his five priests in Cape Coast: Emile Mosser, aged 25; Joseph Kapfer, aged 25; Jean Marie Michon, aged 43; and Alexandre Riche, aged 27. However within a few short months John contracted fever and the doctor ordered his immediate repatriation. He died at sea a few days after his embarkation.

We have an account of his last days from Ignace Meder, the 'visitor' (in charge of the welfare of members):'I have to communicate the sad news that Fr. Garvey has sailed for home. The doctor came to see him three times today and recommended that he take the steamer which happened to be at Cape Coast. Have pity on our desperate position. We are being tried in the same manner as last year, with the difference that this year Sisters and Fathers have been lucky enough to have the steamer available to them. At the moment there are two missionaries in each station. If another Father is forced to leave us, then I will be compelled to shut down Saltpond a magnificent station for the third time.' That letter was written on 8 April 1896. On 28th of the same month Fr. Meder wrote again to the Superior General: 'Two weeks ago I put Father Garvey on the steamer for Europe. I have just learned that the poor Father died after a day at sea. Yet another great loss for the Gold Coast mission, which has suffered so much in recent years. I recommend his soul to your prayers. The Father made a General Confession to me before leaving. We can be sure therefore that he had a happy death'.

He was buried at sea, off the West African coast.