The religious of the early days testify that, since the beginning of the Institution Don Ottorino had dreamed of diaconate, as ministry associated with priesthood. The image of this kind of ministry gradually emerged in him, as the Congregation grew in spirituality and missionary pastoral purpose.
He often spoke with great enthusiasm of the ministry of diaconate, to which his religious non-priests should have access, and declared it a special grace of God for the Congregation and for the Church. In fact, he believed it to be a constituent part of the identity of the religious Family, since, on the apostolic level, it was an essential component together with priesthood, of the response that the Congregation was called to constitute “to a spiritual necessity of today’s people”. He often remembered the moment when he had had the inspiration of the new and indispensable profile of two figures of ministers in the Church, the priest and the deacon united in the same mission.
Don Ottorino’s vision was born from the perception of what the apostolate, the pastoral service of the deacon would be in the modern world: he had to enter the different environments of human life, also favoured by the fact that he was “not wearing an ecclesiastical habit” (today it would be said “Without a religious prejudice sign”), had to “break through” any social barrier and live close to people. The deacon was to be a minister of God and a servant of his people, he would act “outside the temple”, that is, within social reality as an agent of first evangelization, favouring the meeting with modern man and his institutions, and as a missionary.