St. John Bosco

John Bosco, commonly known as Don Bosco, was born in 1815 at Becchi, a village near Turin, Italy. At the age of two, his father died. John, who was to become the father of orphans became an orphan himself at such a tender age. Through heroic sacrifices and by dint of hard work he became a priest in 1841.

As a priest, he dedicated himself to the service of boys, especially the poor by offering them food, lodging and education. Through the help of generous persons he opened technical institutes, hostels, schools and youth centres. Soon he founded a Society of Collaborators, and extended his work to the whole of Europe and the other continents.

Don Bosco was one of the greatest educators of the last century. He died at the age of 72 on 31 January 1888. Don Bosco was declared a saint of the Catholic Church on 1 April, 1934. He saw his religious society grow up into a big organization with three main branches: the Fathers and Brothers who take care of boys, the Sisters who take care of girls and the co-operators who are ordinary

people, but through their life and work try to make the world a better place for the young to live in. Millions are now the past pupils of Don Bosco, all over the world. They are proud of their education. Among them can be counted many who occupy places of responsibility in different countries. The work of this humble priest has grown from a tiny seed into a large tree. The society he founded has now a membership of over 17,000. The Salesians, as they are called, work in over 130 countries through 3500 institutions. In India alone, there are 1700 Salesians serving the educational needs of children through 275 centres scattered throughout the country.

On 16 August we celebrate his birthday on the earth and on 31 January his birthday in heaven. SAINT JOHN BOSCO – THE FATHER & FRIEND OF YOUTH

Saint John Bosco, commonly known as Don Bosco, was an Italian Catholic priest who dedicated his life to the education of young boys. He was born at Becchi, near Turin, in Northern Italy, on 16th August 1815.

Don Bosco was kept away from regular schooling because of many difficulties. His father died when he was two and so his poor family needed his services at the farm. Bosco’s elder stepbrother opposed all his plans of getting even an elementary education. Yet through sheer dint of will power and the help of many a generous heart, he got himself educated to support himself. At this time he worked at odd jobs – all of which he later taught his orphans.

After he became a priest in 1841, he expanded his work for poor and abandoned boys. Born and bred in poverty and having grown up among boys who, for want of a decent home, lived in the streets, he understood well their yearning for food and love which were never adequately satisfied in their homes.

To cater to the needs of such boys, he started an ‘Oratory or Boys Club&’ open to all the boys who wished to spend their time usefully. In order to prepare boys for skilled labour, in 1853, Don Bosco turned his mother Margaret’s Kitchen into a make – shift cobbler and carpenter shop. This was the first Catholic trade school in Italy. With the dedicated group of followers who gathered around him, he was able to help the street urchins to become honest citizens and God-fearing men.

To win the hearts of the youngsters he used The Preventive System”. Don Bosco explained it as a happy blend of reason, religion and loving kindness. In fact when asked about the secret of his immense success with youngsters, he simply answered “Love”. To continue the work that he had started he founded in 1859, a religious society of priests and brothers, known as Salesians (SDB). They are a group of persons set apart within the Catholic Church for the education of youth, especially the poor and the abandoned. To spread his work to needy girls, with the help of Saint Mary Mazzarello, he founded a society of nuns called “The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians” (FMA), in 1872 commonly known as Salesian Sisters. Besides these two, in 1876, he founded a third spiritual family called “The Union of Salesian Co-operators” a group of men and women, married or unmarried who, without becoming priests or nuns would work for youth in the spirit of Don Bosco. When he died on 31st January 1888, his parting message was typical of him, “Tell my boys, I am waiting for them in heaven”.