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Archbishop Emeritus Barry James Hickey Pays Tribute to Fr Gaetano Nanni OMI

Article by Most Rev B J Hickey

Fr Gaetano Nanni OMI died suddenly and peacefully in St Patrick’s Presbytery, Fremantle, on Monday 30 July, aged 93, in the seventieth year of his priesthood.


His death has triggered a huge wave of sadness throughout the entire Italian community in Perth and elsewhere at the loss of their much loved pastor and friend.

Fr Nanni was a true Oblate missionary. He came to Australia sixty years ago to join the Oblate community in Fremantle in order to spend his life caring for the new Italian migrants who were flooding into Australia after the Second World War.

His pastoral efforts extended beyond the Italian community of course, as he was parish priest of many parishes. He served in Harvey, Fremantle, Pickering Brook, St Brigid’s West Perth, Kalamunda and again in Fremantle where he spent his final years.

I feel privileged to have known him well. I lived with him for a number of years in West Perth, now Northbridge, while I was engaged in the Church’s welfare activities. I can testify to his deep faith, his personal prayer life, his hospitality to all who called on him and to his true missionary spirit. He spent hours in the confessional, preached with power and passion, sought out the lost sheep and relaxed with joy and song when sitting at the table with his parish families.

Fr Nanni will be long remembered and loved. May he rest in peace.

Archbishop Emeritus Barry James Hickey