Born on: August 15, 1815
Died on: January 31, 1888 John Melchior Bosco or as popularly known as Don Bosco was born in Castlenuovod’Asti, Italy. John was educated in the faith and in living according to the Gospel message by his mother. He was just nine years old when he had a dream, which called him to dedicate himself to the education of young people. While still a boy he began to entertain his peers with games alternated with work, prayer and religious education.
On becoming a priest in 1841, he chose as his life’s programme: Da mihi animas coeteratolle (“Give me souls, take away the rest”). He began his apostolate among poor young people with the founding of the Oratory, which he placed under the patronage of St. Francis of Sales. By means of the Preventive System, his educational style which is based on reason, religion and loving kindness he led young people to reflect, to encounter Christ and their brothers and sisters, to study their faith and to be involved in apostolic, civil and professional commitment. St. Dominic Savio is an outstanding fruit of his educational work.
Mary Mazzarello was born on May 9, 1837 in a little white cottage in Mornese, Italy. Her father was Joseph and her mother was Maria Calcagno.
As a little child she really revealed her deep yearning to know and love God from the question she posed before her father: “What was God doing before creating the world?” As a member of the sodality she excelled everyone in all aspects. In one of the sodality meeting she accused herself for not thinking of God for fifteen minutes a clear indication of a soul that is always in communion with God. God’s ways are marvelous! Don Bosco in Valdocco and Mazzarello in Mornese yet the same spirit is moving between them – the desire to help girls. While going out of her self to help those infected by the plague she herself was also claimed a victim of this communicable disease. On recovering from it one fine day as she was walking down the uninhabited slopes of Borgo Alto, she received a heavenly mandate. In the vision she saw a group of girls playing in the non-existing playground. A strong voice, firm and steady gave her a legacy
“I ENTRUST THEM TO YOU” she wondered if it could be just a dream or hallucination. Yet there she was fully awake, walking in full consciousness.
In 1864 came a momentous meeting with Don Bosco where she exclaimed, “He is a saint! I can feel it”. Don Bosco too saw something equally precious in her.
In Mary Mazzarello, a like-minded soul, Salesian by instinct Don Bosco found a ready, active, receptive and creative collaborator. In 1872 he founded the Society of the Salesian Sisters (FMA– Daughters of Mary Help of Christians) with Mary Mazzarello as their head.
Imbued with the spirit of the Founder Mary Mazzarello and the first Sisters marched forward in the quest of providing integral formation and education for girls. 1875 saw the expansion of the Salesian work outside Europe. India welcomed them in 1922. Today Don Bosco’s unique charism for youth lives on undiminished in the different parts of the world where Salesian presence is felt and touched through his Sons and Daughters.