St. John Bosco

Dear Friends,

He was born on August 15, 1815 as Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco to his father Francesco and mother Margarita in the northern Piedmont region of Italy.   When he was two years old his father died leaving John Bosco and his older brothers to begin to provide for their poor family.  He became a priest in 1841 and started his ministry as chaplain to a refuge school for girls.   He was a zealous priest working tirelessly in a labor of Christian love.   On one occasion he saw the Church sacristan chase away a boy who was acting up in Church and wouldn’t serve at Mass.  Fr. Bosco found him and later began with him a ministry for boys who were delinquents, abandoned, and those who couldn’t afford an education.  This was the beginning of the foundation of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales or later the Salesians of Don Bosco dedicated to the formation of youth.   At a given time Fr. Bosco had over 700 boys in formation.    His style of discipline was with love, a form of “preventive education” which included reason, religion and kindness.   He was known as a truly authentic man, filled with the great love of God and believed that the boys would find that love and turn their life around.

He did however have his share of criticism among his neighbors who thought that he had befriended very unruly children and brought nuisances to the neighborhood.   Among ecclesiastics he was accused of submitting for ordination poorly prepared candidates from among his reformed boys whose education was incomplete.   Many cardinals despised him because he was considered a “loose cannon” or a “maverick” venturing into ministries that were not traditional of the parish priest.  Many of his Salesian brothers were weary that his canonization would be obstructed by Don Bosco’s many enemies and critics.    John Bosco died on the 31 of January 1888, his funeral was attended by thousands and by the roar of the crowd demanding that he be canonized a saint. 

We can at times be discouraged from our good works of charity and generosity because so often many will criticize, misunderstand, or simply become envious of the greatness of the human heart.   Fr. Bosco’s legacy reminds us that the true work of the Lord Jesus is that of sincere love and great compassion, despite the obstacles and discouragements.   Fr. Bosco was never deterred from what he had to do in the name of the Lord…neither should we.    St. John Bosco not only stands as a witness of courageous love, but also reminds us that young people must be loved and shown that love.   That love must derive from the generous and loving heart of the Redeemer who loves us despite acting or being unruly, delinquent, and misguided.   As we honor this great saint this week, let us show compassionate love to those who struggle, those who are lost, those who suffer, especially the young.   If you are a parent, shower your children with this great love.  For this we know: Love conquers all; love is the great reformer of all, because love never fails. 

In the Lord Jesus,
Fr. Vásquez


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