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Salesian Spirituality

Students in chapel

St. John Bosco, or as he is commonly called, Don Bosco, was born at Becchi, a town in the foothills of the Italian Alps, on August 16, 1815. His father died when he was two, and his childhood and first years of study were filled with difficulties that included supporting himself while attending school. He overcame this problem by working at various trades, all of which he later taught his students.

Don Bosco entered the seminary and was ordained in 1841. He was stationed in Turin, an industrial center that attracted young people from neighboring towns. There he opened an oratory, or boys club, for the young men of the area. Although he did not hesitate to extend his priestly services to prisons and reformatories, he gradually came to realize that his mission was to prevent youngsters from falling into crime rather than to rehabilitate delinquents. Because of this insight, he opened his oratory to all boys. As many as 1,000 boys flocked to his oratory, which was just an open field and a chapel, every Sunday for religious instruction, Mass, sacraments, and a full day of fun and games. Kindness, understanding, and endless patience brought these boys close to their faith.

Aware of the many needs of the boys, he expanded the oratory into a boys’ home. There, youngsters could live and either work or attend classes in the city. To prepare boys for skilled labor, Don Bosco turned his mother’s kitchen into a makeshift cobbler and carpenter shop.

This was the first Catholic trade school in Italy. Leading educators soon came to admire his educative style, which he explained as a happy blend of reason and religion. He strove to establish an atmosphere characterized by a sense of understanding between teacher and pupil and an acknowledgment of life’s spiritual aspects. Thus, he not only prevented delinquency, but also produced leaders for industry and labor, as well as zealous religious and priests.

In 1859, at the insistence of Pope Pius IX, Don Bosco founded a religious congregation of priests and brothers, which he named the Salesians, after St. Francis de Sales. This order was officially approved in 1874. A tireless worker, Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888, in Turin, Italy, at the age of 72. His personal friend Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1934. His feast day is January 31.

One of the key components of Don Bosco’s educational philosophy is religious formation. He wanted young people to become “good Christians and honest citizens.” With this in mind, one of Don Bosco Technical Institute’s key objectives is to provide religious ideals and principles to the young men who make up its student body. Bosco Tech is open to young men of all faiths and creeds, but it is a religious school founded on the gospel teaching that human happiness in this life depends on love and service to God and neighbor.