JOHN BOSCO was born on 16th August, 1815. When John was two years old his father died, leaving the widow Margaret with an ailing mother-in-law, a step-son and two other boys to make a living on a farm in the hills of Piedmont. Love and hardship characterized the home, Despite all odds, John wanted an education he wanted to become a priest.
At the age of twelve, he left home to find work. At fourteen he found a tutor. At fifteen he began taking jobs of any kind to pay for lodging and school. At the age twenty six, he realized his dream.
“I want to be a priest who cares about children,” he said and that is what he did. He began, faltering and searching at first, in the industrial city of Turin. His first permanent school was a broken-down shed. The trades he had learnt while working his way through school became the trades he taught to classes given even in his kitchen. His mother joined him in Turin she was known as “Mamma Margaret – the mother of Don Bosco’s orphans.”
When he needed help, older boys supervised the younger ones, until they formed a huge family with Don Bosco as father. As boys grew to manhood, many stayed to form the Salesian Society, the world’s second largest religious community. Don Bosco’s unquenchable lovebecame an unquenchable movement all over the world. Don Bosco inspired the start of a vast movement of
persons who in different ways work for the salvation of the young. He himself founded not only the society of St. Francis de Sales but also the institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Association of Salesian Co-operators.
Don Bosco called his Educational project “The Preventive System”. It is based entirely of Reason, Religion and, above all, on kindness. It follows the words of St.Paul, “love is patient, is kind, it bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Who was Don Bosco? Historians know him as a social innovator, Saint and educator. Ordinary people know him as a preacher, publisher, builder. Religiousminded people claim him as clairvoyant, visionary and a prophet. Churchmen and psychologists wonder at the catalogue of his prophetic “dream” and his prolific, even prodigal working of miracles. But his special mission was
the care of Youth. He was the priest who made them laugh, gave them food, enriched their minds, taught them trades and filled their souls with peace and joy. The church has proclaimed him a Saint and the Father and Teacher of Youth.