Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saint Luigi Orione’s Asian Contacts and Dreams (4): India, other places and conclusion

St. Luigi Orione sometimes referred to India using the antiquated term “the Indies”[1].
Referring to Saint Francis Xavier,[2] he often used the title “the great apostle of the Indies”[3], who was at the River Ganges.[4] In a rough copy, which seems to be a list of ideas for a homily, he wrote: “St. Thomas preached in the Indies”.[5] In a typed copy about St. Bartholomew, he wrote that he “preached the Gospel (…) as far as the borders of the Indies”.[6] There is also a mention of Alexander the Great reaching the Indies.[7]

Other Mentions[8]
St. Luigi Orione mentioned Asia and certain Asian regions in some of his letters and writings. For example:
In a conference about lepers[9], he talked about Sister Mary of the Passion[10]and her Congregation who worked with lepers in different places, among them Asia.
In some writings about St. John Bosco[11], the Founder said that his Congregation was present in Asia and his name was blessed both in Asia and the Maldive Islands[12].
He also wrote that he had received letters written by his children[13] from the different places where they were, among them Asia.[14]
Speaking about the Pope, our Founder wrote: “A master who is not Italian, nor French, nor German, nor European, nor American, nor Asian, nor African, but universal…”[15]. He also wrote about Asia and some ancient Asian civilizations, talking about the Fathers of the Church and the first Councils.
In his letter “Who Passes Away and Who Remains,”[16] he talked about Genghis Khan and used the adjective “Mongol”.
Speaking about Saint Francis Xavier, Don Orione said that he had been in Japan.[17]

The Congregation and Asia, Today.
            St. Luigi Orione had dreams and plans regarding Asia, and experienced deep sorrow when the Congregation had to leave Palestine, his beloved Holy Land.
But his sons returned both to the Near East and Asia to follow the legacy and the dreams of their Father. In 1984, Fr. Joseph Tirello and Fr. Philip Kehoe arrived in Jordan, and the story of the Congregation in Asia began again. Then, other foundations came: the Philippines, India, Korea and we now hope that the Congregation may continue extending to reach other Asian Countries.
Today Don Orione has some Asian sons from countries where his Congregation is present: Jordan, the Philippines and India, as well as countries where it is not present, such as Korea, Iraq and Vietnam.

            After my perusal of what Don Orione wrote and did in relation to Asia, I would like to share some thoughts:
-          Our Founder thought about Asia, took some initiatives, and dreamed about it. He sent missionaries, received invitations and had a deep desire to work in Asia.
-          He knew something about Asia and the missionary work through the accounts of missionaries. Some of them were even people close to him (a classmate, ex-pupils, etc).
-          He appreciated and admired the martyrs, the saints, the missionaries and their legacy and work in Asia.
-          He had a special love for Palestine, the first Orionine presence in Asia
-          He wanted to go to Asia to serve the poor and to evangelize.

In the Asian sons of St. Luigi Orione, we can rejoice to see that the dream of “Our Lady of the Blue Mantle” is coming true today.

Fr. Facundo Mela, fdp

Payatas (Philippines), 25th September 2010.

[1] The term “Indies” was used to describe the territories of South and Southeast Asia, the present India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, East Timor, Malaysia and Indonesia.
[2] Saint Francis of Xavier (7 April 1506, Javier, Spain - 3 December 1552, Shangchuan Island, China), a Jesuit missionary in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Japan.
[3] Letter to Malfatti. Turin, December 3rd, 1918 and Letter to Little Missionary Sisters of Charity. Tortona, November 22nd, 1930.
[4] This rough copy is undated. Scritti 87,115
[5] St. Thomas is called “the Apostle of India” and there are many traditions about this. This rough copy is undated. Scritti 87,146 and 87,161.
[6] This rough copy is undated. Scritti 76, 245 and 76, 200.
[7] This rough copy is undated.  Scritti 79, 006 and 79, 010
[8] In some of Don Oriones’s writing, we find the Italian word: Indiani, which means Indians, but he was mostly speaking about South American Indians, i.e.; in a declaration, Avezzano, April 20th, 1915: “Dichiaro, io sottoscritto, di avere nel 1913 avuto affidato dal Padre Giovanni Genocchi, il giovane Nicodemo Gonzales, cittadino Paraguaiano, insieme con altro ragazzo indiano di nome Paolino, che ora tengo in educazione al Collegio - Convitto S. Romolo in Sanremo. In the same way, regarding the words: orientale (Oriental, Eastern) or oriente (the East, the Orient), they referred mostly referred to the Eastern Christians (Orthodox, Armenian, etc) and the Eastern part of the Mediterranean area or the Near East (Palestine, Armenia, Greece, etc), not about the Middle or the Far East
[9] Notes of the Conference and the lepers. Buenos Aires, November 5th, 1935.
[10] Blessed Mary of the Passion (1839 – 1904) was the foundress of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
[11] Tortona, January 31st, 1940. The other texts have no date. Scritti 94, 261a and 94, 236.
[12] These texts are undated. Scritti 61, 045; 94, 218; 94,191 and 61,012.
[13] He may have spoken about his religious and / or his former students.
[14] These texts are undated. Scritti 81,132 and 81,144; 98,023c and 98,034.
[15] This text is undated. Scritti 90, 390.
[16] Christmas Greetings 1920.
[17] This rough copy is undated. Scritti 98,023a and 98,033.

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