With the launch of the new website for World Youth Day Krakow 2016, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk about an exciting, upcoming event in London, celebrating the life of the patron saint of young people – Saint John Bosco (also known as Don Bosco).
John Bosco dedicated his life to the service of abandoned young people. He was driven by first-hand experience of the effects of poverty and hunger in the young people he came across in Italy, and he was determined to change their condition. Others were inspired to follow him in responding to the needs of young people. He created an order in the Catholic Church, called the Salesians.
The saint was born in a village called Becchi in 1815. When he was only two years old he lost his father and was brought up by his mother, Margaret. Through a series of events in his youth, he learnt to become a leader for the young people with whom he grew up. In order to relate to them he needed to develop certain skills. He learnt that by combining entertainment with teaching and praying he could achieve positive results. Entertained by his magical balancing act, the young people would gladly listen to a lesson or pray with John Bosco.
Don Bosco knew that education was the key to helping these young people. He sought to teach them and to get fairer treatment for them with their employers. He looked to help other young people who still slept under bridges and on the streets. Even when they stole from him, as some did, he never gave up hope. He never lost his confidence in young people. He started technical schools to educate the young people in skilled jobs like printing, bookbinding and mechanics. In those days, these were the skills that would guarantee better conditions and a better future for them. He continued his work on his system of education, a style which was immediately recognised as an ideal way to improve educational standards and to get the best from young people.
After a life of achieving so much for young people, Don Bosco died on 31 January 1888 at the age of 73. Today, the Salesians of Don Bosco continue this great work, operating on the principles Don Bosco left us: the principles of Reason, Religion and Kindness.
To celebrate Saint John Bosco’s bi-centenary, Westminster Youth Ministry is teaming up with the Salesians UK on an event that will teach visitors about the inspiring life and mission of this great man.
Included in the day’s events are a photograph exhibition on the theme of ‘Vision of Life’. This will be in the church entrance area at St Aloysius in Euston. There will also be a professional theatrical performance on the vision of Don Bosco in the hall, followed by a contemporary prayer service and the chance for discussion. There will also be the opportunity to watch a presentation on Saint John Southworth too, later in the day.
A bi-centenary doesn’t come along all that often, much less for a great figure from whom we can all take inspiration.
The event is on Sunday 19 April, from 1:30-6pm at the Centre for Youth Ministry.