After three month on Brazil, St. Luigi Orione wrote to one seminarian, Domenico Sparpaglione, encouraging him to study, to pray and to become a saint priest. But Don Orione also shared with Domenico his experiences in Brazil, showing us his priestly heart.
Mar de Espanha, 17th October 1921
My dear Sparpaglione,
... I have been preaching in Portuguese since 8th September. Yesterday being Sunday I preached several times. I said two Masses, one here and the other sixteen kilometres away, where I arrived at twelve-thirty in a village where there is no priest.
The one who was the Parish Priest, now quite old, went to Rio for treatment and will not be coming back.
Everybody was waiting for me and, when they saw me arrive, they started to wave their handkerchiefs for joy. They had been waiting there all morning, poor people! And their church is so bleak and I wanted to weep, and at the altar I vowed once more to the Lord to be a good priest, seeing the total faith of that abandoned people.
The church was "cheia" (full), and they sang, and at those hymns I wept with love for God and souls, and with sorrow to see the people without a priest to baptise their children, to comfort their sick, to bless the graves of their departed! I read the Gospel, I baptised, I read the banns of marriage, I received their children and attended their sick! They asked me if they could have Masses even if only for Saints' Days and for the Dead! I hope that either I or another of us can go.
Here we have six or eight horses, and we go by horse. Our horses, like the cattle here, do not have a stable or a shed, they are out on the pasture day and night, and graze on the land of our "sciaccra" (little farm) which are vast.
(...) I was at Sao Paulo and the Archbishop asked me to look after the Italian immigrants at Braz, a district of the city completely made up of Italians. The Italians of Sao Paulo must be at least two hundred thousand; it is the largest settlement that Italy has outside of our Homeland. At Braz the Italians are born and die without the comforts of our Faith. I hope that Divine Providence will help us; I accepted it; I could not, must not, say no. (...)
My dear sons, here our harvest of golden corn gets greater and greater, and the field of work, the field of charity, of souls, gets wider, but the hands are few! Hurry up and get ready, hurry up and develop, hurry up and come. I need new reinforcements in addition to the four already requested from Fr. Sterpi: I need at least two other good priests for Sao Paulo and two other good and true seminarians. I pray that Our Lady will send me them, but that they will be good and full of piety, work and sacrifice!
I bless you all with the love of a father in Jesus Christ and, in His Heart, I embrace you spiritually, and I place all of you in the hands of Our Most Blessed Lady.
Fr. Orione of Divine Providence.