This seems like a fitting end to Catholic Schools week with the feast of the Father and Teacher of Youth. John Bosco was born near Turin, Italy around 1815, the region was devastated by the Napoleonic Wars. John Bosco’s father died when he was about two years old leaving Margherita Occhiena to raise their three sons.
At the age of nine John had a vision that inspired the rest of his life. Bosco saw a group of poor boys playing and swearing up a storm, John tried to make them stop swearing asking first then resorting to violence neither way worked. Then a man appeared and said “You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness.” After this vision it seemed clear that his path would take him into the priesthood.
Growing up John and his brothers were shepherds in the fields and visited the traveling entertainers who passed by. John was enamored with the juggling, magicians and acrobats. Bosco learned the tricks and secrets and would preform with prayers before and after. By the age of 12 he was sick of all the fighting he had with his brother Antonio and left home. in 1835 he entered the seminary, supposedly he mother told him that it’s not the clothes that give honor to the state but the practice of virtues and if he had any doubts of his vocation at anytime he should give it up as she would rather have a poor son than a negligent priest.
John Bosco was inspired by Francis de Sales and dedicated his work to him when he founded the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales, which sort of morphed into the Society of St. Francis de Sales which would eventually become the Salesian Order. The Salesian Brothers and Sisters primarily run shelters for homeless or at-risk youths; schools; technical, vocational, and language instruction centers for youths and adults; and boys’ clubs and community centers around the globe. There is also a lay missionary branch within or along side the order.
Bosco wants to bring people closer to God and he did so through his magic, juggling and acrobatics, but also through the gentleness and kindness shown towards people. John Bosco also developed an education plan as he believed that being loved and knowing that you are loved are key aspect of it. Dom Bosco is the patron Saint of Magician, young people and some other thing as well. I hope that we all can be inspired by the life of John Bosco and embrace love, kindness and gentleness. If you can catch a magic show today that is wonderful.