St. John Bosco, apostolic priest of modern times, is hailed as the patron of youth.
He was born in Castelnuovo, Italy, on 16th August, 1815. As a youngster he was employed for a time as a shepherd, and this leisurely work gave him opportunity for prayerful union with God which was so evident in the years of his labour for souls.
As a young priest in Turin, Don Bosco was under the guidance of Don Joseph Caffasso, now a saint. An act of kindness towards a poor boy in 1842 began the work of charity associated with his name thereafter, the care of needy youth.
For them he organised clubs and night schools, giving them recreation and training. Despite obstacles and difficulties from all sides, the endeavour, which included technical schools and workshops, grew until he had to found a society, the Salesians, to perpetuate it. The work for boys gradually branched into a work for needy girls, for whom a Community, Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, was inaugurated.
Don Bosco was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929. The same pope, who had known the saintly priest, canonised him five years later. St. Dominic Savio, canonised in 1950, was one of the early pupils of the Salesians.
Reflection - A personal love of Christ developed in his own youth was the source of the deep zeal for the young which characterised St. John Bosco's work. There is nothing as precious as a soul. St. John Chrysostom asks: "What is equal to that profession which is concerned with directing the soul and forming the mind and character of the young"?