Saint John Bosco, also known as Saint. Don Bosco, is famous for working with the youth. His feast day is 31st January.
John Bosco was born on 16 August 1815 in a farmhouse near a small village east of Turin in northern Italy. His father died when he was only a child. He felt this very deeply and it made him want to care for young people who struggled with the same circumstances in their lives. His mother, Margaret, was a wonderful woman whose own faith made a deep impression on him.
When he was only nine years old, he had a dream that was prophetic. In the dream, he was with a whole lot of children who were playing. The problem was that they were going hell for leather and were pushing and shoving each other and swearing and cursing at each other. John didn’t like this and tried to stop them by throwing himself into the game and swearing and cursing himself and trying to force them to stop what they were doing by being just as rough himself.
But a man appeared to him who said: “Don’t hit them, you will only be able to win them over with kindness and love. I will give you a teacher who will help you to become really wise.” He didn’t realise it straight away but the man was Jesus and the teacher he was promised was Mary. He eventually placed his whole life under her guidance and honoured her with the title “Help of Christians”.
This experience led John to want to learn to be an acrobat, a magician, a singer and a juggler so as to be able to attract companions to him and to keep them far from sin. This then led him to want to become a priest and to dedicate himself entirely to helping young people learn to love God. He used to work all day to earn his keep and would spend his nights studying what he needed to learn so as to be able to enter the seminary to become a priest. Finally, when he was 20, he was able to enter the seminary and was ordained as a priest in Turin in 1841, at the age of 26.
When in danger or in need, have recourse to Mary. The Blessed Virgin has always helped me and will always do so!-St. John Bosco
During the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, Turin was chock-a-block with poor young people. They were either orphaned or abandoned and looking for work, and were exposed to all sorts of dangers. Don [Father] Bosco started to gather them together on Sundays, sometimes in a Church, in vacant lots, or even in open public spaces where they could play and where he could teach them about their faith.
Don Bosco was loved no end by his “rascals” as he used call them. Whenever anyone asked him the secret of such success, he would reply, “I always try to win them over with kindness and love.” It was from among these young boys and men that he chose the first Salesians. Wishing to provide the same sorts of opportunities to girls, he founded with Saint Maria Mazzarello, the Salesian Sisters [The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.]
Don Bosco fuelled his life with three great loves, the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Mary Help of Christian and loyalty to our Holy Father the Pope.
Saint John Bosco was canonized less than fifty years after his death. Pope Pius XI bestowed upon him the title of “Father and Teacher of Youth” at his canonization.
[Story adapted from https://www.salesians.org.au/about-us/don-bosco ]
Through our discernment, we recognised that the current times we live in is very similar to the times of Saint John Bosco during the industrial revolution in Turin. We are surrounded with young people who are seeking for the truth, peace and joy in the world but this can only be found in Christ. The Church is going through a great time of persecution and although the quality of life now is better than before, a lot of young people now struggle with mental health which affects their wellbeing.
Our team related strongly to the story of Saint John Bosco and are convinced that we are once again called to touch the lives of the young people, through loving kindness. We want to invite you all to join us in this mission. We can all start by taking little steps of reaching to our neighbour through loving kindness with the aim of offering them an alternative which is far greater than those of the world, one which is grounded in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ and His everlasting love for each and every one of us.
Lastly, let our lives also be fuelled by love for the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Mary Help of Christian and loyalty to our Holy Father, the Pope.
Throughout this year, we will be sharing stories of Saint John Bosco in youth ministry (you would realise that very much of what He does is something we can do too!) and we hope that you can take this into prayer, reflection & action. And if this is benefitting you, don’t forget to share!
Saint John Bosco, patron saint of the youth, pray for us!