by Fr. Flavio Peloso
Don Orione founded a family, with himself as the father. He had the heart of a father. What kind of father was he?
Let us consider some moments in his life.
* Don Orione replied to the aspirant, David Sacco from Noto: “You do not know my rules, but you know my life, and the aims I work for; nothing for myself, everything for God and the Holy Roman Church, and any sacrifice whatsoever to make me holy and to save and comfort my brothers’ souls. A heart which reaches out beyond every boundary, being so filled with the love of my crucified God ...”
* Fr. Piccinini, then a twelve-year-old boy and an orphan of the Marsica earthquake, was seriously ill with pneumonia. Don Orione gave the child his own bed and frequently went to check on him even at night, to see if he was coughing, was feeling bad, or needed anything.
* On 10th April 1909, from Palermo, in the midst of so many problems, he wrote to a twelve-year-old boy from Tortona, who was an orphan and ill; “Dear Venturi, I will soon come and visit you. See, your Superior remembers you from Palermo ...” The boy died a few days later, but he passed away with that comforting “kiss” from Don Orione.
* During his trip with Ignazio Silone, Don Orione became close to him, and told him about himself, his problems and plans…... the many postcards he wrote, so that as many people as possible would receive a greeting… “for some, these may be the only greetings they will get!”
* On his 25th priestly anniversary, he was caring for a dying seminarian, Basilio Viano, “carrying out those humble but sacred services such as a mother does for her children ...”
* In 1923, deeply distressed, he wrote that "these sons of mine are hungry” and that he wished to return to South America like “an immigrant father, searching for the means to feed his family.”
* After the death of seminarian Ruggeri’s father, Don Orione wrote to him: “I will be your father from now on!”
* In 1939, he wrote on a Christmas card: "Jesus, I desire to be the happiness of your heart, I desire to be the consolation of your Church: I desire to be the happiness of those around me and those who will come to me. Fiat! Fiat! Don Orione ".