John Bosco the father and friend of youth was born on August 16, 1815, in a peasant family in the little hamlet of Becchi, some 20 kilometers from Turin, Italy. When John was only two years old his father, Francis Bosco passed away. His grief stricken mother, Margaret Occiena Bosco, had a harrowing time to bring him up.
To complete his education John had to do his share of work on the family farm and study during his spare time. Working as a servant, teaching, assisting a tailor, doing chores for a black smith and keeping score at a billiard table were some of the things he did in order to pay for his food, lodging and tuition while ate school. In due course John entered the seminary and was ordained a priest on June 5, 1841. From then on he was known as Don Bosco (Father Bosco).
Don Boscos work for boys started with one boy, a masons apprentice. Soon this boy brought others and the number of Don Boscos friends multiplied. He gave them facilities for games and taught them their religion.
Don Bosco called his method of education the Preventive System, based on REASON, RELIGION and KINDNESS. He told his disciples that education was to be based on love, on selfless service for the mental, emotional, moral and spiritual growth of the pupils.
KEY TRAITS AS SALESIANS OF DON BOSCO
1. A special concern for the welfare of young people wherever we are.
2. Loving kindness and a welcoming attitude – lived out in openness, cordiality, readiness to make the first approach and to put others at ease with our friendship, respect and patience.
3. Optimism and Joy. There is no place for discouragement in the face of difficulties, but a calm and serene acceptance of whatever is good.
4. Work and temperance or learning how to balance tireless energy and hard work with simplicity and moderation. It also means knowing how to control the promptings of the heart in order to remain even-tempered and serene.
5. Acceptance of daily routine with cheerfulness. “Here we make sanctity consist in doing our duty cheerfully.”
6. Creativity and flexibility – hallmarks of Salesian presence in our works among the young.
7. A realistic perspective on life coupled with our attentiveness to the promptings of the Spirit manifested through the signs of the times.
8. Our educative method – ‘The Preventive System’ – is a system based entirely on reason, religion and loving kindness, a unique spiritual and educational experience of working with and through the young for their and our salvation.
9. Deep trust in God and a constant listening to His will are the spiritual foundations of our work. In this way we strive to keep alive our collaboration in God’s creative and loving action in history.