Thursday, February 2, 2012

St. John Bosco: an educator for all times

What can we do as we face the confusion and the immorality of the policies of political correctness being forced into our schools? How can we best see a remedy for the children? One way is to look to the saints. Those holy men and women who have played a gigantic role in the education of young people and use them as our guide to steer us from the darkness of the present. They are the true teachers of all times.

On January 31 every year the Church celebrates in its liturgy the memorial of St. John Bosco. Don Bosco was born in 1815 close to the town of Castelnuovo, part of the diocese of Turin. His growing-up years were very difficult because of the poverty of his family and the death of his father when he was 2 years old. As a result, when he was ordained to the priesthood he dedicated a great deal of his work to the education of young people, especially street children, juvenile delinquents and disadvantaged youth. To do this, he founded congregations to instruct the young in the way of the arts, learning a skill and the Christian life. St. John Bosco was not afraid to write pamphlets to support and defend the faith.

At a time when corporal punishment and fear of authority were used as teaching methods, John Bosco's revolutionary approach was based on love. Where did John Bosco get this "Love"? In Chapter 25 of St. Matthew which has the all encompassing view of the last judgment of every human being, we find that secret: "Lord, when did we see you hungry... or thirsty... or a stranger?... Amen I say to you as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me." The method is known as the "Salesian Preventive System of Education". Using this approach, Bosco was able to attract numerous boys and adult helpers. He believed education to be a "matter of the heart". Students must not only be loved, but know that they are loved. There are three main components of the Preventive System: reason, religion and kindness with music and games added.

John Bosco was a student of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales whose theology was one of optimism: God's mercy gives every human being a choice and an abundance of grace to obtain eternal salvation. In fact, Bosco had such passion for this spirituality that he dedicated his works to St. Francis once he founded the Salesians of Don Bosco. With Domenica Mazzarello, he also founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a religious congregation of nuns dedicated to the care and education of poor girls. In 1876, he began an organization of laity called, the Association of Salesian Cooperators; their mission too was to help and instruct the poor. The Salesian Bulletin which was first published in 1875 is still with us today. He was canonized by the Church in 1934 by Pope Pius XI.

John Bosco put charity, prayer and love of Christ at the heart of his vocation. His mission was to instruct, not his own love to students, but the Love of Christ that can only come from God the Father. This is the true remedy of what's needed in education today and thanks to the saints like St. John Bosco they have given us a timeless model of Christian pedagogy to imitate.


  1. For 60 years St. John Bosco experienced amazing vision-like dreams. I would encourage anyone reading this blog to buy a wonderful book about these dreams entitled: Forty Dreams Of St. John Bosco From St. John Bosco's Biographical Memoirs.

    One of these dreams from Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco entitled The Two Columns In The Sea: "concerns the battles of the Church against many adversaries, the sufferings of the Pope and the final triumph through devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to Mary, Help of Christians."

    This dream conincides perfectly with the biblical passage that says, "not even the gates of hell will prevail against the Church." In the end the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph over the forces of darkness the world over. God bless you all and your families.

  2. Thank you, Frank, for all your inspiring and suggestive comments. We sincerely hope that other readers will find them useful for their spiritual life. We do appreciate that you take the time to share your ideas. Best wishes to you!

  3. Hello Lou Iacobelli:
    I have been determined to find you and write to you however there is no link to contact you.
    What I wanted to tell you is as a Catholic mother that I appreciate all that you do, your truthfullness your compassion as a father and devout Catholic. It is important in today's society to see and hear the truth about God , about Jesus and about the Virgin Mary.
    I work in a school and it a public school, I must admit that it is the most difficult thing I do. I am a secretary and what I must accept in this public school education deeply saddens me and I had hoped to contact you in order to get some perspective. Especially a Catholic person whom is really looked down by my peers because they know I am Catholic, they see my Rosary in my car, they see my crucifix, they see that I am Catholic. The school uses a 'peace tree', which to me replaces what is supposed to be Jesus. How ironic they seek to implement peace, love and acceptance without the true person that has taught us this exact thing. There are comments and passages from others, but not God, I need some sort of support as I am conflicted each day as I work.
    I was brought up and grew up with Catholic/Christian persons, however now it seems as thou I am the minority. I do not know how to respond to such animosity --- Of course I would love to work with the Catholic Board but the Catholic Board has not the opportunities available to persons such as myself that need work.
    If you can could I contact you so I may discuss personally the conflicts I feel?

  4. Dear Mrs. Giambertone,

    Continue to be a respectful and loving witness of the truth. Do not be discouraged by the numbers. We are people of hope. Always remember 1 Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." In these days of political correctness more people are afraid to speak up, but we must. It's our baptismal call to do so. And keep praying even for those who disagree with us. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts about the faith. May God bless you and your family.

  5. Dear Mrs. Giambertone,

    If you still feel you would like to contact me, you may do so at:
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the faith. God bless you.