“Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things.
Do your utmost to banish darkness from your mind and come to understand what true,
selfless piety is.
Through confession, endeavor to purify your heart of anything which may still taint it.
Enliven your faith, which is essential to understand and achieve piety.”
St. John Bosco
There is so much more that I’d like to write about John Bosco, this educator/saint,
but again time is not on my side.
Hopefully, I will do so, God willing, as time allows.
But until then, I’ve included a brief biography of this man from Turin, Italy below.
This past school year was a very trying time for my daughter-n-law.
And that is putting it mildly.
Here she was, a new young first-time mother of a young child learning to manage
motherhood and her work…as work was anything but easy.
She had taught school in the public sector for several years, earning the reputation
as a stellar educator.
This past year, due to moving and making home in Atlanta, she made the move to a parochial school.
Initially, the hire seemed to be a God-send.
The woman who hired her, the then acting principal, was moved by my daughter-n-law’s record as
an educator as well as her exceptional interview.
Yet as fate would have it, this woman retired only to be replaced by an interim principal.
To say that the replacement was a bully and difficult would be an understatement.
As a veteran educator of 31 years, when I had the opportunity to meet her fellow colleagues
at her baby shower, I was struck at how miserable this staff actually was.
The entire staff hated this bullying tyrant acting principal—several vowed to quit,
many long-time veterans were fearful their contracts would not be renewed.
All the while this sadistic man seemed to have a laser of extreme hatred,
focused on his co-teacher, our daughter-n-law.
I was fretful because as our daughter-n-law was very pregnant, I was more than aware of
what outward stress internalized could possibly do to an unborn child.
We were all on pins and needles as our hands felt tied.
Frustrated and anxious summed up the winter months.
At the end of February, our son and daughter-n-law bought a new rug.
I was there the day they brought the rug home.
As we unrolled the rug, we found what first appeared to be a half dollar rolled up
inside the rug.
Upon further inspection it was a St John Bosco medal.
We are not a Catholic family so my son and daughter-n-law were a bit perplexed
and unaware of who this man was.
My quasi-Catholic self knew good and well about St. John Bosco.
“Abby”, I exclaimed, “don’t you see…this is St John Bosco…he is more or less
the patron saint for educators…”
“It is a sign…God sees and He knows of your troubles…you’ve got to trust”
I had no doubt after this “coincidence” that God was at work.
Because in my world there are no coincidence but rather only the
workings of the Holy Spirit.
It’s is a long story that I will save, but circumstances grew to such a level that this
hateful man actually painted himself into a corner.
Word was issued, via e-mail, during Spring Break that this principal had been relieved of his duties
and would not be returning.
It was an answered prayer not only for our family, but also for entire school staff.
God hears, God sees, and God knows…
It is us, His often lost and clueless children, who so often need reminding.
St. John Bosco reminded our small family…
Saint John Bosco’s Story
John Bosco’s theory of education could well be used in today’s schools. It was a preventive system, rejecting corporal punishment and placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin. He advocated frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. He combined catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite the spiritual life with one’s work, study and play.
Encouraged during his youth in Turin to become a priest so he could work with young boys, John was ordained in 1841. His service to young people started when he met a poor orphan in Turin, and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. He then gathered young apprentices and taught them catechism.
After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, Don Bosco opened the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for boys. Several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money, enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys, shoemaking and tailoring.
By 1856, the institution had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. John’s interest in vocational education and publishing justify him as patron of young apprentices and Catholic publishers.
John’s preaching fame spread and by 1850 he had trained his own helpers because of difficulties in retaining young priests. In 1854, he and his followers informally banded together, inspired by Saint Francis de Sales.
With Pope Pius IX’s encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the Salesians in 1859. Their activity concentrated on education and mission work. Later, he organized a group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.