For the past three decades Scime has been director of music at St. Teresa of Avila Parish. He is also an adjunct professor of piano at Seton Hall University and head of the Music Department at Marylawn of the Oranges High School-both in South Orange.
Scime "created" the Assisi music festival, now known as Assisi Musica, as a way of perpetuating the experience of several choir pilgrimages he had made to Europe. Saying he felt "called" to establish an annual program, Scime emphasized he searched for a "valid reason" to do so.
He found it.
After Vatican II, Scime explained that Sacred Music became very important. However, he lamented, many parish positions were being filled by amateurs. That realization was the springboard for the festival, which has as its primary focus to compliment the course of study that a music student would experience at a university or conservatory.
Another driving force for Schime was that at the time music schools were not telling students they could work at parishes.
Through the festival, Scime said he wants to "enlighten" students and professionals alike that parish work is both "important and musically satisfying."
Why Assisi? Its rich musical heritage was a factor, but so was the assistance offered by the local pastor and city officials said Scime. Of all the pilgrimages he made to Italy, Assisi consistently provided the best experience, he added.
Music always was a family tradition in the Scime household when he was growing up. Recalling an unusual set of circumstances as a soldier in the Army from four decades ago that "only God can explain," Scime initially was in the infantry when he was suddenly reassigned to the band as a pianist. He had never asked for the transfer, Scime stressed. While he enjoys the piano, its main benefit is that it prepared him to play the organ, which is now his primary instrument.
The annual Assisi Musica gathering this year will take place July 1-18 and will include 50 internationally renowned singers and instrumentalists. Not a year goes by, Scime commented with obvious satisfaction, that several participants "change direction" in their musical careers and go into Sacred Music as a result of the festival.
Along with the festival's musical agenda there is also a spiritual retreat. Participants usually attend religious exercises during the day and a concert at night. There is also plenty of sightseeing. The festival has "made major contributions to the cultural life of Assisi," he said.
Scime is concerned, however, that Assisi has been losing tourists due to the extensive damage of a major earthquake that struck the province of Perugia in September 1997. The earthquake killed 10 people and damaged the Basilica of San Francesco, which was build between 1228 and 1253. St. Francis was born in Assisi in 1182.
Ever since the earthquake, many travel agents removed Assisi from their agendas. That, he stresses, is a big mistake because the major renovations and repairs in the village are now complete. He urges tourists to go to Assisi, citing the fact it is "one of the most important religious sites in the world." Assisi is located 90 miles north of Rome in the Umbria region.
A delegation representing the mayor of Assisi was in New Jersey earlier this month promoting tourism. Among its stops was St. Teresa of Avila Parish to honor it for its role in establishing Assisi Musica. Msgr. Robert E. Harahan is the pastor of St. Teresa of Avila.
In addition to Scime, festival board members include Dr. Gloria Thurmond, faculty associate in the Seton Hall Department of Art and Music; Estelle Gibbs, a music teacher at St. Peter School in Belleville and Our Lady of Libera School in West New York; and Bobbie Boulware, adjunct professor of music at Seton Hall.