Saint John Bosco , more popularly known as Don Bosco, was born on 16 August 1815 at
Castelnuovo d’Asti, Piedmont, Kingdom of Sardinia. He was the youngest son of Francesco Bosco and Margherita Occhiena, farmhands of the Moglian Family. He had two brothers named Antonio and Giuseppe. His family lived during a time of great shortage and thus were no strangers to poverty.
Poverty was the main deterrent to his schooling plans especially since he had to work in a farm like all the members of his family. Priesthood was a long shot then as it was considered apt for the privileged class. He eventually got his chance when he met Joseph Cafasso, a young priest who sponsored his schooling. After several years, he entered the seminary and was ordained a priest after 6 years of study.
The direction he took was partly influenced by a series of dreams he had when he was young where he saw a multitude of poor boys playing and blaspheming and a nobly attired man saying to him “You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness. So begin right now to show them that sin is ugly and virtue beautiful.” During his early priesthood, he visited prisons and was deeply disturbed when he saw young boys aged 12-18 there. He was determined to find a way to prevent this from happening.
Don Bosco eventually established the Oratorio where he tried to help young boys in need find shelter, employment, and spiritual guidance. This led to continuous work towards providing assistance to abandoned boys which led in turn to the formation of what would become the seed of the Salesian Congregation. He formed the Society of St. Frances de Sales as the nucleus group and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians together with Mary Mazzarello so religious sisters can do the same for young girls.
Saint John Bosco has been credited for the Preventive System of Education which promotes the importance of reason, religion, and kindness in bringing up a child. He died on January 31, 1888, but not without leaving a legacy as the father and Teacher of Youth. His words: “Run, jump, shout, but do not sin” is a constant reminder that one can enjoy life and still avoid sinning.