Joseph Marie Garavel (1824-1885), Catholic priest and educator, was priest-in-charge at St Bede’s, Pyrmont, from 1879 to 1885. He was born in Savoy, which became part of France in 1860. He studied in Pont-de-Beauvoisin until he entered a seminary in Paris. He joined the New Zealand mission in 1849, completed his studies at sea, and was ordained priest in Auckland.
For fourteen years he worked in the Maori mission. In 1863 however, his neutrality in warfare between Maori and British forces made him unacceptable to the latter, and next year he moved to Sydney.
Archbishop Polding assigned him to St Mary’s cathedral, where he rescued the contents of the tabernacle from fire. Later he served in Newtown, then in the Waverley-Randwick mission. In 1872 he entered the home of a dying woman against her doctor’s wishes. The doctor sued him for tearing out his whiskers. Garavel counter-sued, but lost and was fined. The newspaper reported that “Father Garavel and Dr Reid shook hands… as they left the court.”
He transferred to Pyrmont, and addressed the needs of the poor and the young. He bought the house next to St Bede’s for the priest’s residence and built the school on the other side.
His last, brief, appointment was to Petersham.
Father Joseph Marie Garavel died in October 1885, bequeathing 100 pounds to his successor at Pyrmont, and other smaller bequests.