At the age of nine little John Bosco was given a mission in a vision. He was to transform wolves into lambs “NOT WITH BLOWS BUT WITH KINDNESS”.That was the goal of his life. Overcoming untold hardship and hostility he became a priest on June 5, 1841.
His determination to be a priest for YOUTH combined with dynamic optimism resulted in the flowering of his long cherished goal in 1845. Don Bosco saw the untold misery of the poor boys of the working class at Turin. He saw them and other youths like them… comprehended their situation to the fullest extent and determined to conquer them with his educational system called "THE PREVENTIVE SYSTEM" - a system based on REASON, RELIGION and LOVING KINDNESS which springs forth from the heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd.His determination to be a priest for YOUTH combined with dynamic optimism resulted in the flowering of his long cherished goal in 1845. Don Bosco saw the untold misery of the poor boys of the working class at Turin. He saw them and other youths like them… comprehended their situation to the fullest extent and determined to conquer them with his educational system called “THE PREVENTIVE SYSTEM” – a system based on REASON, RELIGION and LOVING KINDNESS which springs forth from the heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd.
He opened his first little house in 1846. Blooming in spite of its poverty, it soon grew into a Boarding, a School, a Youth Centre and a Professional School.
In 1854 he grouped his few helpers into the nucleus of the Salesian Society vowed to committing their lives at the service of youth in the spirit of the “DA MIHI ANIMAS COETERRA TOLLE” – “Give me souls, take away the rest” forming youth into God-fearing and upright citizens.
In another vision, the Virgin Mary pointing to a group of girls said to him: “Take care of them, they too are my children”. This came as a heavenly confirmation to a cherished dream of his extend his work also in favour of girls. Thus on August 5, 1872, Don Bosco founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who are the living monument of his gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary for all the favours received from her.
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.