Saint John Bosco: Turning Lost Boys into Men

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It was fate… or so Pope Pius IX thought when he heard about the dreams that Saint John Bosco had had since the age of nine, calling him to a ministry. Saint Bosco is known for working with neglected boys as the founder of the Salesian Society.

He was born in the small town of Becchi, Italy and raised by his mother. It is said that he worked as a shepherd and was taught by the local parish priest. Young John was smart, quick witted and had an extremely retentive memory. He loved to learn but necessity pulled him to the fields in order to provide for his family. Still, he was eventually able to become a priest.

In his dreams, he was with a group of children who began to misbehave, and John jumped in and tried to use force to stop them. Then a “man with a light-filled face” called John and made him their leader. John was shocked. He was nine years old and this man told him, “You will have to win these friend of yours not with blows but with gentleness and kindness.” John inquired how he was to do that since it looked impossible and the figure responded: “What seems so impossible you must achieve by being obedient and acquiring knowledge.” Then the children in his dream turned into wild animals.

As Saint John grew older and wiser the children in his dreams changed from wolves to lambs. He began his ministry with children and many thought him crazy and dismissed him, but he kept trying to teach children about God and faith. He continued to have dreams – some about the Virgin Mary, others about the children, but he always tried to glean something from his dreams and apply it to his mission.

Saint John died at the age of 72 in 1888 but his work continues through the Salesian Society, which continues to aid youth with education and faith. – Erika Guzman

 

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