In a letter written in 1938, Don Orione described his Congregation and its programme.
What is it?
It is a humble religious Congregation, modern in its men and in its systems, wholly and only consecrated to the good of the people and of the children of the people, trusting in Divine Providence.
Born for the poor, in order to achieve its aim it establishes itself in working class centers, and preferably in the most wretched districts and suburbs on the outskirts of the great industrial cities. It lives little and poor among the little and poor people, mixing with the humble workers, encouraged by the blessing of the Church and with the substantial support of the authorities and of all those whose spirits are open to the new times, with great and generous hearts.
It goes to the people with more than words, with the example and holocaust of a life offered day and night with Christ, for the love and salvation of its brothers.
While living a single Faith, and having one heart and soul and a single government, it develops many activities according to the various needs of men it meets, adapting, through the charity of Christ, to the different ethnic demands of the nations among which the hand of God has transplanted it.
It is not, therefore, one-sided, but just wants to sow Christ, the Faith and civility in the humblest and most needy furrows of humanity. It assumes different forms and methods, creates and nourishes various institutions, evaluating in its apostolate all experiences and suggestions drawn from the local authorities.
Its programme: charity
It yearns to spread among the people the Gospel and the love for the sweet Christ on earth, as well as a livelier and greater spirit of fraternal charity among men. It is directed towards raising the working classes, both religiously and socially, saving them from poor, fatal ideologies, and building up and uniting the people in Christ.
Its field is charity, without excluding truth and justice, but truth and justice done in charity.
The Little Work wants to serve and to serve with love: it intends, with the help of God, to carry out the works of mercy, in a practical way, for the moral and material relief of the poor.
Its life is to love, pray and educate orphans and the most abandoned children of the people in virtue and work: it is to suffer and sacrifice itself with Christ.
Its privilege is to serve Christ in the most abandoned and rejected poor.
Its cry is St. Paul’s “Charitas Christi urget nos” [The love of Christ urges us on], and its programme is Dante’s “Our charity closes no doors”.
So, it welcomes and embraces all who in sorrow but who have no one to give them bread, a roof or some comfort: it becomes all things to all men, to draw all men to Christ. So that it comes from a lively throbbing of that love which is always alert and ready for all the needs of our suffering brothers. This Little Work of Divine Providence wants to be almost a current of living, beneficial water which branches out its channels in order to irrigate the driest and most forgotten strata, and fertilize them with Christ.
It is a work of God
It is a new plant which has emerged at the feet of the Church, in the garden of Italy, not through the work of man, but through a divine breath of the goodness of the Lord.
And it is developing from year to year, in the light and in the heat of God, to comfort thousands and thousands of bodies and spirits. It is a unique plant with diverse branches, all living with the same sap, all turned to Heaven and flowering with love for God and men.
This is, perhaps, the least among the works of Faith and charity which have sprung from the heart of Jesus, but wishes to be second to none in consuming itself in the love and service of the Church, of our country and of the people. Everything tells us that God alone has raised it up and is spreading it, in spite of our wretchedness, through extremely painful trials and even per ignem et aquam [through fire and water], sure of giving the help of Faith to us men of little Faith.
It is a work of Faith
In a time of positivism, of worldly greed and money, the Little Work of Divine Providence intends, therefore, under the patronage of the heavenly Virgin, to wipe away many tears, to raise minds and hearts to that good which is not of this world and which alone can fill and satisfy the heart of every man.
It wishes to co-operate in a modest way, with great humility and kneeling at the feet of Rome, in keeping the people faithful or bringing them back to the Church and to the country, and to save the little ones, the humble, those most led astray or our brothers in Christ who suffer most.
Laus Deo! [God be praised!].