By Enrik Aguila
Who wouldn’t know St. John Bosco or ‘Don Bosco’ as he is fondly called? Here in the Metro, schools named after him are almost everywhere. In the different cities of the country, a lot of Churches also have him as their patron. Come to think of it, even the back flaps of our Catechism books which were made by the Salesians, tell us about his life. But the question is, do you really know who is he? At the very least, did you know that he is the patron saint of the youth? Perhaps it’s time to get to know him a bit more.
Born at Piedmont, Italy, St. John Bosco grew up to become a man full of aspirations and dreams. He dreamt a lot in a literal sense. However, his dreams weren’t just random images of his mind or any sort. It definitely wasn’t just like of any ordinary kind. Catholic books even account Pope Pius IX telling that St. John Bosco’s dreams were legacies and inspirations to those whom the saint worked with and ministered to.
As early as age nine, St. John Bosco had the first of a series of dreams which would eventually lead him to what he became. It was of his dream during that time that he said “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.” Eventually that first dream led him to minister to poor and neglected boys; to use the love and guidance that seemed so impossible for a nine year old to give when leading others to faithful and fulfilled lives.
Later after his ordination to the priesthood, St. John Bosco focused his ministry on the betterment and education of orphans, street children, juvenile delinquents and other disadvantaged youths. He even established homes called oratories where they could live, learn productive trades and be educated in the faith. One of the ideals he upheld was that “the pillars which should sustain the whole edifice of education are frequent confession, frequent communion, and daily Mass.” He likewise taught these youths of different virtues to follow Christ. One of his teachings was on this verse of which he was well known for: “At the proper time, run, jump, amuse yourselves as much as you like, but please do not commit sin.” Even later, he then founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (more commonly known as the Salesian Society or the Salesians of Don Bosco).
He lived a selfless life – a life of service, love and passion. Let Don Bosco’s life be an inspiring example for all of us. As we celebrate his feast day on January 31, may we be reminded of His zeal and dedication to selflessly live for others. Moreover, this Year of the Youth 2011 as announced by the Catholic Church, may we be driven to serve the Lord more and bring the different youths closer to Him with the same passion that fueled the Patron of the Youth. And finally, let us bring to mind what St. John Bosco always says to his pupils, “Be honest citizens, good Christians; not only that, God wants you to become saints,.” Let us be courageous enough to take up such a challenge.