Luigi Orione, my dear brethren, was not the kind of person the Church looks for when she wants to recruit priests. He was not much at home in the cloister, he was much more at home with the labourers who worked for his father, and he joints the gang and returned gang whoever he could.
When the Church is considering candidates for the seminary one of the things they look for is stability, determination, the kind of person who makes up his mind and perseveres. Luigi Orione wasn't like that, he was Just the reverse. By the time he was seventeen, he had tried two religious orders and failed in both. He tried to be a Franciscan first, and that didn't work, then he went to be a Salesian and that didn't last long, and this vas all by the time he was seventeen year old. The bishop gave him his chance and admitted him to the seminary. How did he get on there? Not very well. He didn't get on with his studies, he was always minding somebody else's business. Whose business was he always trying to mind? The answer to that reveals the secret of Luigi Orione’s holiness of life.
The people he for were those whom nobody else wanted; he was a man of tremendous compassion, the hopeless and the helpless they were the ones he wanted. In fact we can say that he was a man of our time. I say of our time because, despite all the evils of which we complain, in many ways this is an age of compassion. You can say what you like about young people, but we have to admit that they are much more caring than use were years ago. And that’s the first thing to notice about Don Orione, that he looked after those whom nobody else wants. People always looked after children. They cherished the orphans; they knew that these innocent little ones were calling upon them. But anyone can look after those who as full of hope. Where character and holiness of life is seen is to look after the hopeless eases, to look after the imbecile, to look after the senile, the helpless this is the work that Don Orione set himself, and set all the Sons of Divine Providence to do. And I've seen that work in many places, in this country both north and south, and also in far away Latin America, and the work of the Son of Divine Providence is quite characteristic. Again they look for the hopeless, they want the unwanted, but I can assure you that their apostolate in Chile is the most wonderful missionary work in all the world. There are those missionaries who come from Europe and from America, who make politics one of their chief concerns, but not the Sons of Divine Providence.
They preach their mission by their works of mercy. They preach the Word by the example, and above all, there as everywhere, they let for the people whom nobody else wants. And this is the reason why we are gathered simply to thank God for Luigi Orione, the manna of our times. We have people today who share his views, people like Theresa who cares for the outcast, Leonard Cheshire, who cares for the incurable sick. Yes, Don Luigi Orione is a saint for today and so we thank God for him.
We thank God for the Sons of Divine Providence and we pray that their work will be abundantly blessed and that many apostles will join them in caring for the most abandoned of Christ’s little ones. May God bless the Sons of Divine Providence.
By Card. John Carmel Heenan
Archbishop of Westminster
Resource: Don Orione nel centenario della nascita (1872-1972). (Documenti e testimonianze),
Edizioni Piccola Opera della Divina Provvidenza, Rome, 1974, pp. 449 – 450.