Most of the young people who came into contact with Don Orione were marked in a positive way for the whole of their lives by him. Many years later, all over the world, they would have the fondest and most favourable memory of their Father… Don Orione speaks to us about it in a letter to his “Former Pupils.” One of the happiest surprises he had in Latin America was, in fact, that of meeting, in those far off lands, a great number of his former pupils who showed the utmost affection for him. And their gratitude as well. Don Orione, who has always remained a “friend, father and confessor” to them, invites them to keep on with the good work. He is happy to note once more that “Jesus is never sown in vain in the hearts of young people.”
Souls and Souls!
Buenos Aires, 7 September 1935
To my dearest and unforgettable Former Pupils,
You cannot imagine, my Dearest Friends, how frequently I think of you, with all the old, unchangeable affection!
From this far off land, I send the greetings of dozens of your one-time companions, former Pupils like you, who, in this hospitable Argentina, have kept high and honoured the name of Italy, so proud they are to have been educated in our Schools.
Since I arrived they have been surrounding me with so much love and so much gratitude that more than once I have felt emotional to the point of tears.
Many have even come from the central part of Argentina and further still, bringing me their children to be blessed. When they first saw me they could not prevent themselves from crying for joy, as if they had seen their father or their mother.
Imagine, my dear Former Pupils, that it is forty years since I have seen some of them, from the time I was starting… After many, many years in which we had not seen each other, I would never have thought that I could have been remembered so well and loved so much!
Ah, I am more and more convinced that we never sow or plough Jesus Christ in vain in the hearts of children and young people.
Even if, at a certain time in our lives, it may sometimes seem that Christ is still in the tomb, His death was such that He will always, sooner or later but always, rise again.
From time to time three or four of them happen to meet me here, as well as some from the first Oratory, in the Bishop’s garden. They are now grown men and more than grey haired.
They greet each other and come to see me as if they were coming home to their old father’s house.
And they pour their hearts out, telling me things in confidence, talking about their joys and sorrows and even – should I say it? – even their sins! Thus I act as a friend, father and confessor to them!
And they go away happy, leaving such a great contentment in my heart, “that no-one who has not experienced it can understand.”
I wanted nothing more than to know that they were always mindful, always grateful and always in holy fear of God, living in the midst of this big world, where there is a bit of everything, living moral lives, fulfilling their duties, giving good example to their children.
If it is God’s will that I return to you, I would like for us all to meet together in order to consolidate and strengthen ever more the sacred bond that unites us, and to increase our sphere of good works. And you will certainly all feel with me a most earnest desire to cooperate in that renewal of Christian life, “Renewing all things in Christ,” by which the individual, the family and society can expect a restoration of the social order. Remember that we are and want to be your most sincere and affectionate friends.
Goodbye, dearest Former Pupils. May God bless you! Don Orione thinks about you constantly, and prays for you and for your families.
I embrace you all in spirit and send you my most abundant blessing, both for you and for your families!
Yours, Don Orione