St. Don Bosco
Bosco was born at Castelnuovo d'Asti in 1815. He lost his father, Francesco, at the age of two and his mother Margaret had to look after him and his two brothers Antonio and Guiseppe. John was educated by his mother in the faith and in the consistent practice of the gospel message. When only nine he learned through a dream that he was called to dedicate his life to the education of the young. While still a boy he began to entertain his companions with games to which he added prayer and religious instruction. On his ordination to the Priesthood (1841) he chose as his life programme:
Da mihi animas, cetera tolle (Gen. 14: 21) “ Give me souls and take away the rest”
And began his apostolate among poor youth by founding the oratory and placing it under the protection of Saint Francis de Sales.
Through his style of education and pastoral practice, based on Reason, Religion and Loving kindness (Which he called his Preventive System), he helped young lads and teenagers to think seriously about their lives, to encounter Christ, accept their companions, learn about their faith and the Sacraments, and to involve themselves in apostolic and professional commitment. Among the finest fruits of his pedagogy was the 15 year old Saint Dominic Savio. The source of his tireless and efficacious activity was a constant union with God and limitless trust in Mary Help of Christians, whom he felt to be the inspirer and support of all his work. And to his Salesian sons he left a legacy in the form of a religious life that was simple but solidly founded on Christian virtues and summed up in the pharse: Work and Temperance.
Among his youngsters he sought out the best collaborators for his work, giving rise to the Society of Saint Francis de Sales; together with St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; finally with good and diligent lay people , both men and women, he created the Salesian Cooperators to flank and sustain his work, thus anticipating new forms of apostolate in the Church.
Don Bosco passed away on 31st January, 1888 at the age of 73. He said in a whisper the following last words to the Salesians who were keeping vigil around his bed, “Love each other as brothers. Do good to all and evil to none. Tell my boys that I wait for them all in Paradise.”
Don Bosco was declared ‘Blessed’ in 1929 and canonized by Pope Pius XI on Easter Sunday,1934. Pope John Paul 2nd gave the title of ‘Father and Teacher of Youth’ to Don Bosco.