ST. JOHN BOSCO, FOUNDER AND TEACHER OF THE YOUNG
January 31 is the day that the Catholic Church honors St. John Bosco, an Italian Catholic Priest who helped the young and marginalized respond to their need for education, work-related problems and spiritual formation.
John Bosco was born into a poor family of peasant farmers on August 16, 1815 in Becchi, a quiet village close to Castelnuovo d’Asti (today Castelnuovo Don Bosco) in Northern Italy. He was born right after the end of Napoleonic war which left the country ravaged and in chaos. There was also drought and famine at the time of his birth.
John was just two years old when he lost his father, leaving his mother to raise three boys all by herself. Little John and his older brother Joseph, together with their stepbrother Anthony tackled the endless hard work in the farm.
Mama Margaret as she was fondly called by the neighbors, made a strong impact in the life of John. She was a woman of character who taught her children the value of work and that it would be easier if done cheerfully. Despite their poverty, his mother could still share some food with the homeless who came asking for food and shelter. With firm kindness and boundless faith,
taught her children the value of work and that it would be easier if done cheerfully. Despite their poverty, his mother could still share some food with the homeless who came asking for food and shelter. With firm kindness and boundless faith,
Margaret taught them lessons in upright living, determination and fear of God, which she taught by example. John attended church and became a devout Catholic because of his mother. For John, praying was a means of talking with God anywhere even if he was herding the cattle.
When he was nine, he had a dream that changed his life forever. In his dream, he saw a number of unruly boys who swore while they played. Then a majestic man and woman appeared before him. The man told him, “You will have to win these boys not with your blows but with gentleness and kindness.” Then the lady told him to be humble, steadfast and strong. And that he will understand everything when the time comes.This dream helped John discern his true calling, to be a priest.
John entertained his peers with juggling, acrobatics and magic tricks before explaining a sermon he had heard or leading them in praying the rosary. His brother Anthony was very much against his studying so he left home to work in Moglia farm at the age of 12. For two years, John worked in the farm until his uncle took him back to Becchi when Fr. Calosso offered to help him study. But that didn’t last long because the priest died.
Johnny was 16 when he decided to continue his studies. He stayed in the house of a tailor and learned the trade. He then moved to Chieri where he spent ten hard years learning different trades in order to provide for himself. Here, he met Luigi Comollo who became his closest friend and Giona, a Jew.