About Don Bosco

St. John Bosco

John Bosco was born in the little hamlet of Becchi some 20kms from Turin, Italy. His father was a hard working peasant who died when John was 2 years old. The grief stricken words of his mother, telling him that he was now fatherless remained deeply impressed in the child's mind, and perhaps helped to instill into his mind the intense pity for the orphans and the homeless which became the dominant role of his life.

The story of the exertion and sacrifice s made by him and his mother cannot be told here in detail. Working as a servant, teaching, assign a tailor, doing chores for a blacksmith and keeping scores at a billiard table where some of the things he did in order to pay for his food, lodging ,and tuition while at school. But the worst was over when in October 1835, with a outfit provided by a charitable neighbors, John Bosco entered the Seminary at Chiert.

On, 5 June 1841 John Bosco was ordained priest. Disregarding attractive offers of priestly work. DON BOSCO as he was called from now, went on to pursue a post graduate course in theology., together with some practical training in priestly duties.

Very soon Don Bosco became a frequent visitor to the poorer quarters of the city. Owing to its rapid expansion laborers were crowding into Turin in great numbers. The young priest was distressed by the swarms of neglected children whom he encountered. In the miserable garrets and cellars which he visited, he found exemplified all the evils of overcrowding, all the terrible effects of herding the young and innocent with those already corrupt. In the prisons he met youth serving for every terms of crime, while during his evening work he constantly met bands of young people fighting, making of themselves a danger to society.

Don Bosco's work for boys started with one boy, a mansions apprentice. Soon the boys brought other and the number of 'Don Bosco's friends' soon multiplied. Don Bosco gave them facilities for games and taught them their religion.

In the mean time Don Bosco had finished his post graduate course of priestly studies and was full-time employed in the work of oratory. Soon he started offerings destitute children (Youth Centre) there were over 600 boys while some 20 young stars lodged with him. He need someone to look after his boys and 'Mamma Margaret'- as the boys would affectionately call her offered to come to Turin and help him.

With rooms, no matter how small, at disposal, the young priest's ideals began to expand. He organized daily evening classes for his boys. To lessons in Christian Doctrine were added those in arithmetic, drawing, geography and grammar. It was also at this thorough going teacher finding it difficult to procure text books really suited to his boys, commenced writings of his own. The first was The History of the Church, the second The Metric Decimal System Simplified. These were followed by History of Italy, a prayer-book for young people, and others, many of which went through many editions and attained enormous circulations.

As the number of boys in the oratory increased, Don Bosco started buying up more and more land around the tiny original all with the donations from his benefactors in Italy and abroad.

In 1857 a new oratory was found by Don Bosco in another part of Turin. Two years later it became necessary to open a third oratory to look after flocked to other two oratories.

Although enlarged and re constructed more than once the first building became quite in adequate. In 1850 it was demolished and an entirely new structure took place. In 185333 two small workshops had been open; a shoemaker's, the other tailors, for teaching the unemployed youngsters of the oratory a trade in order to provide them with the means of earning an livelihood. A workshop for teaching carpentry was soon followed by others for book-binding and cabinet-making. Lastly, there founded a very modest printing-press which has since developed into the great publishing house known all over the world by the name 'Societa Editrice Internazionale'.
All this while, from 'old boys' Don Bosco had been building up Society of men to develop his work and would carry it when he died. In December these young men formed into a simple society for this purpose. In May 1862, 22 of them took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience - thus forming a true religious congregation. In 1869 this community was officially recognizes by the Catholic Church and took the name of 'Salesians' after St. Francis the States.

Don Bosco also found the Congregation of religious nuns known as 'Daughters of Mary help of Christians' to educate girls with the same method as the Salesians used to educate boys.
Now, what is the method did Don Bosco and his Salesians used to educate boys? Don Bosco called it Preventive System- base on REASON, RELIGIOUS and KINDNESS.

The educator was to spend himself in the demands he made on them, he was to teach them a deep love for truth and virtue, in all his dealings he was to be patient and kind with them. Don Bosco told that education should be based on love, selfless service, for the mental, emotional moral and spiritual growth of the pupils. His little book on The Preventive System in the Training of Youth forestalled by half a century the educational methods which were to be acclaimed as opening a new era when more fashionable educationists 'invented' them.

In 1875, he opened a branch in Patgonia, South America. By 1876 there were more 10 branches of the Society, one of them in Nice-the first in French territory, which was followed by a college in Marseilles in 1878. Soon the French foundation numbered a and spread to Belgium. Together with the spread of Salesians schools came also an increase in the number of Salesians. In 1880 they numbered over 900.

Praise and triumphs greeted Don Bosco in his last years of life. The Government of Italy recognized him as an outstanding public benefactor, educationalists sought his advice and profited from the system practiced in his schools. Church authorities including Popes, regard his work as providential, rightly fitted to the needs of the times.

A third branch of Don Bosco's grew under the same name of 'Salesian Cooperators'. These were ordinary people in the world who helped Don Bosco's work by means of prayer and co-operation.

He lived to be 73. Not a great age ; but his work was done. So indefatigably had he worked that it was firmly established. He could no longer stand his right hand was paralyzed. 'Do you know where I could buy a new pair of bellows?' He asked pointing to his lungs, 'for these won't work for much longer'. Hundreds of people, not counting his own spiritual family, for the news from the sick room at the oratory when he died. It was quarter to five in the morning of 31 January 1888. Don Bosco was declared a Saint of the Catholic Church on 1 April 1934.

Let us sum up the days of work of the farm-boy of Becchi. The Society he founded now numbers over 18400 members working in 114 countries through over 2400 institutions. In India alone, our children through 312 institution s scattered throughout the country. The Daughters of Mary help of Christians have a membership of 18000 and they work in 57 countries through 1438 institutions. The children educated by the Salesians and Daughters of Mary help of Christians are a legion. Countless young men and women, well stablished in the society living lives useful to themselves and to their fellow beings offer s ceaseless Don Bosco for having saved them from lives of crime and misery.

That is all. But then, that is all he wanted; to guide the young along the path of virtue and goodness.