Father Gaetano Scremin was the oldest son of Gino Scremin and Fioretto Amabile. He was born in Valdagno in the Province of Vicenza on the 13th March 1942. His father worked at the Marzotto textile factory in Valdagno. He entered the junior seminary of the White Fathers in Treviglio, near Milan and did his secondary school studies at Parella about 40 kms north of Turin in the Piedmont Region. He studied Philosophy in Gargagnago not far from Verona. He went to Gap in France for his novitiate and then studied Theology in Heverlee, Belgium where he took his Missionary Oath and was ordained Deacon on the 28th June 1968. He was ordained priest on the 29th June 1969 at Cornedo Vicentino. After a number of short appointments, he was appointed for formation work in our Philosophy house in Gargagnago. However after three years, he received his appointment for Africa and he was able to leave for Rwanda on the 1st September 1973. Unfortunately, he had to return to Italy after a year and a half for health reasons.
After a period of convalescence, Gaetano was able to return to the missions. He spent a year in Tunisia and two years in Algeria. However, even in North Africa, he had health problems. Nonetheless, these two experiences of Islamic countries gave birth to a particular interest in Islamic-Christian dialogue. He studied Islamology at PISAI in Rome from 1993 to 1994.
Gaetano could not go back to Africa, which meant that he had to remain in Italy in our communities. He worked in a parish in Prato for three years but in the end he returned to the family home. For the last 20 years of his life he lived in Novale and consecrated his life to dialogue with Muslims and giving advice to the Diocese of Vicenza with meetings and sessions in order to make known the Muslim world and how to dialogue with it. He also helped the Parish Priest of his parish and in the vicariate of Valdagno.
Fr. Gaetano had the same kidney problems as his mother and brother. For many years, he had to undergo many sessions of dialysis and in 2000, he finally had a kidney transplant. However the anti-rejection medication caused tumours on his face which, linked with many other medical problems, led to his death on the 24th February 2018.
The words of the Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette could also apply to Gaetano, “you will not be happy in this world but in the next.” May Fr. Gaetano be happy close to the Father whom he had served faithfully as priest and missionary despite all the trial and sickness he had to endure during his life.
Gaetano Cazzola, M.Afr.