Saint John Bosco was a master catechist who knew the importance of living and teaching and handing on the faith; he was a man who lived his faith with conviction. He was a priest who was concerned with the whole person of the young people he taught: he wanted them to fill both their minds and their souls.
John Bosco was encouraged to enter the priesthood for the specific purpose of teaching young boys and forming them in the faith. He was ordained in 1841. His ministry began with a poor orphan, who John prepared for First Holy Communion. Then he was able to gather a small community and teach them the Catechism. He worked for a time as a chaplain of a hospice for working girls, and later opened an oratory – a kind of school – for boys, which had over 150 students. The needs of teaching them also encouraged John to open a publishing house to print the catechetical and educational materials used in the classrooms.
He was known for his preaching, and that helped him to extend his ministry by forming a religious community – the Salesians – to concentrate on education and mission work in 1859. He later formed a group of Salesian Sisters to teach girls. By teaching children self worth through education and job training, John was able to also teach the children of their own worth in the eyes of God.
Jesus tells the healed demoniac in today’s Gospel, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” We need to hear this command as well; it is up to all of us to help people come to faith in Jesus by our witness of words and actions. Saint John Bosco was tireless in his devotion to teaching and forming young people. In today’s Eucharist, may we give thanks for the teachers in our lives, and may we also commend the teachers and catechists of today’s young people to the patronage of Saint John Bosco.