I had been told about don Oreste, then I went to Rimini to meet him. It was 1980, I had chosen to pay civil service instead of military service. Our meeting took place in a hall of the parish of “Resurrection”, where I was welcomed by a very busy priest. He listen to me for a very short time, almost in a hurry, yet he managed to transmit a concrete proposal, the same of Christ: “Come, follow me, give your life to the poor.
He was so welcoming, so firm in his principles of fidelity to Christ, doctrine, and to the Church’s tradition. For him there were no doubts that the Catholic Church is the only Church of Christ and his words toward a certain kind of shallow ecumenism towards theological schools that, he used to say literally, “castrate Christianity”.
Don Oreste was a secure guide for us, a teacher who always brought us back to the sole master, Christ, yet was able to communicate us his charisma. He used to say: “Christ is a living person, not a philosophy nor an ideology”. This outlook embraces the choice of prayer, which cannot be a feeling, but a conscious adhesion. A choice which can be also difficult, because often a father or a mother with natural or accepted children, must conquer this space of prayer.
The life of Pope John XXIII community, which he founded, is strongly immersed in the world and in people’s problems. As a spiritual family, we feel continually challenged by this suffering humanity. But our activities need to stay close to Christ, as don Oreste used to ask us: this is why in our homes there is always room for the Eucharist’s word , for example in a little chapel. During the last years we were nourished by the Word, also through don Oreste’s comments on the Gospel of the day, entitled “daily bread”. To this particular attention we add full participation in the life of the Church, parishes and dioceses we are in.
He was in love with the Eucharist: everyone could see the care and love with which he celebrated it. Yet his was a liturgy “of people”, those who went to his Mass on Saturday to “Grotta Rossa” saw a true, united people of God: nobody was excluded. In the midst of this people don Oreste could enjoy the presence of Christ and make those present enjoy it. He was also a revolutionary man: “he used to say that we must not give to the poor out of mercy what they must receive out of justice. A view he took also inside the Church; but in front of the bishops, he always taught us obedience. He urged us to dialog, to bring our opinion, while reminding us that the Holy Spirit in the Church gives the gift of the confirmation of discernment to the pastors.
The more time passes, the more rooted becomes memory about him. His witness was prophetic, many brothers and sisters of the community tell me that it is thanks to his example that they currently manage to overcome numerous difficulties in everyday life. An extremely positive fact is that we receive every year new calls from families which want to become part of our world. And which are willing to take a challenge also abroad, in places with difficult situations. Don Oreste’s voice continues to reach everywhere.