Saint John Bosco


Saint John Bosco, 1815-1888

January 31

John Bosco of Turin, Italy, used his dreams to discover what God was calling him to do. At the age of nine, he began having dreams that would reveal God’s plan for him. Eventually, these dreams would lead to help troubled young boys and girls.

In one dream, young John saw himself in a field with a crowd of children. The children started cursing and misbehaving. John jumped into the crowd, shouting and swinging his fists to try to stop the fighting. Suddenly a man with a face filled with light appeared in his dream.

The man said, “You will have to win these friends of yours not with punches, but with gentleness and kindness.” John was skeptical, but the man advised him to be humble and obedient. Then the boys who had been fighting turned into wild animals. John was challenged to grow in humility, faithfulness, and strength. Only then would he see a change in the children. As John changed his ways, the wild animals suddenly turned into gentle lambs.

From that point, John knew that his life’s work would be to help troubled young boys—and later girls—to become more Christ-like. He studied for six years to become a priest. He ministered to poor and neglected boys and took them to Mass. Many of the young boys he guided went into the priesthood.

Saint John Bosco founded the Salesian Society that opened homes for young boys to be educated and train for the priesthood. By the time of Don Bosco’s death in 1888, he had left a lasting legacy of helping those less fortunate.

Discuss: Tell about a time when someone was mean or hurtful to you and you treated them with gentleness and kindness anyway. What happened? 

Children in Need

Saint John Bosco was called to care for children in need. Together as a group, brainstorm ideas for how you can help children in need. Then choose one of the ideas and work together to do it. For example, the young people could collect books, toys, or clothes and donate them to a shelter. Or they could volunteer to read to children at parish programs or at a local school or child-care center.