Monday, June 7, 2010

Saint John Bosco

Feast Day : January 31

Don Bosco was born on 16 August 1815 in a village called Becchi north of Italy. John’s father died when he was two years old and was brought up by his mother, Margaret. At the age of nine, John Bosco had been having dreams that revealed God's will in his life. He was in a field with an unruly crowd of children and John was asked to lead them. “Not with blows, but with kindness and love you must win over these your friends. I shall give you a Teacher under whose guidance you will become wise”. This vision became a guiding force that inspired him to become a priest and led him to minister to the poor and neglected boys.

While attending college and seminary, he did myriads of work such as a shoemaker, tailor, carpenter, baker and John Bosco would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals to learn how to juggle and do magicians tricks in order to relate to the boys that he was teaching.   His aim was to provide fun and games with teaching and praying so as to catch the attention of the children.  After this entertainment, he would talk about God and teach them.

John Bosco was ordained in 1841, just short of his 26th birthday. In Italy, priests are called Don, so John Bosco was also known as Don Bosco. He continued to teach catechism to orphans and with loving guidance led the young people to a useful, fulfilled lives. Don Bosco saw education as the key to helping the boys. He built technical schools to teach them skilled jobs like printing, bookbinding and mechanics. In those days, these were the skills that were needed to provide a better future for these young generation.

Soon enough, others were inspired to follow him in responding to the needs of the youth. Thus, he started the Salesian Missions in South America and founded the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859. He also founded the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians in 1872, and Union of Cooperator Salesians three years after. 

Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888 and was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

Reflection:

Saint John Bosco became the bearer of God's love to these young boys.  With John's gift of friendship, joy, love of life...he dedicated his life to service and reached out to these children to provide for them both their material and spiritual needs.

May we continue to walk with others in the spirit of St. John Bosco and fulfill every human longing for love, joy and meaning.

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