Letter to all the Italian Parish priests, on seeking religious and priestly vocations.
Tortona, 15th August 1927.
Most Reverend Father,
May the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be always with us!
I would like to come and see your Excellency in person, but, as it is not possible, I am confident in your goodness to be able to ask you to listen to me favourably even from far away.
I will be grateful to your Excellency if you can help me in the work of seeking out holy vocations; it is in fact about this that I am hoping to interest you in the Lord: I am coming to seek vocations. And I am especially looking for young men who show a desire to become priests or helping brothers, and who would be prepared, with the agreement of their families, to join this new-born Congregation of the Sons of Divine Providence, which, as it is blessed by the Vicar of Jesus Christ and the Bishops, will soon be able to pitch its tents far beyond Italy: to Rhodes, to Palestine, to Poland, to Uruguay, to Brazil and to Argentina.
It is prepared to accept poor boys, as long as they give good hope for the Church. And it will educate them, with the help of God, in the doctrine of Jesus Christ, to a firm and ardent eucharistic piety, a burning spirit of charity and apostolate, helping them with special care in their studies and religious formation.
"The harvest is great, but the labourers are few."
Brothers, let us provide labourers, good labourers, for the vast fields of faith and charity!
Your Excellency's expert eye will have certainly seen in some humble boys a spark of a heavenly vocation: they are the little Samuels that Divine Providence is continually raising up in the service of the Church and for the spreading of the Kingdom of God throughout the world.
I am not coming to reap, not at all: I let the Bishops reap for their Seminaries; but, just as I used as a boy to go with my poor mother to pick up ears of wheat or corn along the sunny furrows, I am now coming, in the Name of the Lord, to pick up the ears of wheat left behind, those humble ears of wheat that could have been lost. And with divine grace, I will try even from them to draw food and the bread of life for souls.
"Many are called to the service of the altar," wrote that great Servant of God, Fr. Rua, but many are lost, as they cannot always be helped.
If, therefore, Your Excellency has discovered, among the good boys who go to Church, some poor young boy, perhaps a little left out of things, but with the openness of innocence and the signs of a vocation to the service of God, I take the liberty of humbly asking you to send him to me.
We have preparatory courses for those candidates who are not mature enough for Grammar School. With all of them I will give every assistance. Our Blessed Lady will help me!
The vocations of poor boys to the Priesthood are, after the love of the Pope and the Church, my dearest ideal, the sacred love of my life.
Mercifully led by Divine Providence, this "Little Work" was begun for them; for them our first House in Tortona was opened, for those, that is, that the Bishop had not been able, unfortunately, to accept into the Seminary. And God has granted me an increase: how many good Priests have been formed, Bishops as well!
What a long road I have walked for the vocations of poor boys! I have climbed so many stairs: I have knocked on so many doors! And God brought me onward like His slave.
I have undergone hunger, thirst and most painful humiliations: yet they seemed like little treats from God! I have also incurred many debts; but Divine Providence has never let me go bankrupt. And if Jesus were to grant it, I would consider it a great grace if, for vocations, I could go begging bread right up to the end of my life.
For the character, then, of this new-born Congregation, I am coming to seek vocations and even late vocations: both for the Priesthood and for lay brothers or helpers, of which we have a great need, in Italy as well as abroad, in the Missions and in the Schools for the children of Italian emigrants.
I will even accept mature men, as long as they are free: farmers, artisans, widowers; they must just be in good health and of good will. All those who feel they are called and able to give me a hand in exercising the Apostolate of Charity in the Colleges, Sunday Schools, Agricultural Colonies, Professional Schools - Printing Houses, Mechanical Workshops, Carpenters' Shops, Laboratories of arts and crafts - and also in the Hospices and Homes that the Hand of Providence is opening for the salvation of youth or for the comfort of the humble: all can find their niche, their place of work, since in these Charitable Institutions there are many mansions.*
Whoever perseveres stays with us, as if he were at home, in sickness and in health, for the whole of his life.
For those no longer deceived by the world and who wish to give themselves to God in a life of recollection, prayer and seclusion, we have the Hermits. The Hermits of Divine Providence live in the peace of solitude while praying and working; and even young candidates are accepted, just as St. Benedict did.
And then? Well I still have not finished, as I also have the Sisters. Divine Providence is at work. For some years It has been developing, through my hands, a new Congregation of Sisters, called the Missionaries of Charity. And they have already spread throughout Piedmont, Lombardy, Venetia, Emilia, The Marches, Rome, Calabria and even into Poland.
How many they are, I do not know. I know that generally the Nuns are a little like ants. However, they are always too few in number for our needs, as they are requested on all sides for Nursery and Infant schools, Hospitals, Poor-houses, etc.
So, if your Excellency should send me some good vocations for the Sisters, I would be very interested. There is also a section of Nuns for the widows. I also have the Blind Sisters, the Sacramentines.
And then...and then, if Divine Providence is still at work, you will see in a few years what will spring from the hands of the Lord.
It is all Our Lord's doing, it is Our Lord, I would say, who is at work. The One who spoke through the mouth of Balaam's ass, did not find a more miserable creature on earth than me, in order to show that all good comes from Him.
I am not looking for dowries, I do not impose age limits for anyone; I just want them to have a good spirit, good health, a good will to love and serve Jesus Christ, to work in humble obedience, to sacrifice themselves in charity, to do good to the poor, serving Jesus in the poor. Because we exist for the poor, in fact for the poorest and most abandoned.
See, my dear Brother in the Lord, how many cares I am laying before you, how many people this Brother Galdino of Divine Providence is coming to ask from you.
Brother Galdino del Manzoni was happy to go around looking for peanuts. I, on the other hand - due to time passing - will end up, if your Excellency is not careful, by seeking you out and taking you away yourself...And who knows?...Who knows if one day...God were to wish!...For now, I shall content myself with humbly asking you to send me vocations, good vocations, many vocations! Souls and Souls! I am looking for souls! I am trying, with divine help and your Excellency's also, to do a job of resuscitation of good Religious, of holy Priests, of Apostles.
Who would refuse to help me? Do me this charity for the love of God, the Blessed One!
I trust in Our Lord and in the intelligent goodness and zeal of your Excellency. For what you will do, may God bless you with a great blessing! I will always pray for you, and I promise always to be grateful to you, especially at the Altar.
Permit me now to embrace you fraternally with a holy kiss. Please accept me, respectfully as your humble and most obliging servant and brother in Jesus Christ and in Our Blessed Lady.
Fr. Luigi Orione of Divine Providence