When I reflect on the life of St. John Bosco, I’m fascinated by how his work so closely mirrors the mission at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. In fact, one of our boys’ homes is named after him.
Bosco, born in Italy in 1815, dedicated his life to saving young men on the streets by providing housing and work skills during the 19th century. He was encouraged at a young age to become a priest and was ordained in 1841 in Turin.
His service to the young and poor began when he met an orphan and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. From there, he gathered apprentices and taught them catechism.
After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, Bosco started the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales to expand his mission. It still helps those in need today. Generous patrons donated money, enabling Bosco to offer shoemaking and tailoring workshops for the boys.
By 1856, 150 boys called the Oratory home. Bosco added a printing press for the publication of religious pamphlets, much like Mercy Home’s Mission Press. Bosco’s dedication to vocational education and publishing rightly justify him as the patron saint of young apprentices and Catholic publishers.
Bosco’s feast day is celebrated on Jan. 31, the day he died in 1888. Bosco was beatified on June 2, 1929. He was canonized April 1, 1934. He is also the patron saint of editors and schoolchildren.
Father Scott Donahue is the president of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.