John was born in Castelnuovo d’Asti and educated by his mother. Even as a child he felt the calling to be a teacher and would entertain his friends with games alternated with work, prayer, and religious education.

He became a priest in 1841, and as his apostolate was begun among poor young people with the founding of the Oratory, which he placed under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales. He used an educational style and pastoral practice, based on reason, religion, and loving kindness (the Preventive System).

He led young people to reflect, to meet Christ and their brothers and sisters, to the study of the faith and to apostolic, civil and professional commitment. St. Dominic Savio stands out among the most outstanding fruits of his work.

St. John’s inheritance for his Salesian sons and daughters was a form of religious life that was simple but founded on solid Christian virtue and on contemplation in action, which may be summed up in the words “work and temperance.” He sought his best collaborators among his young people, thus establishing the Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians). Together with St. Maria Domenica Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters).

Finally, together with good and hard-working lay men and women, he created the Salesian Cooperators to work alongside him and sustain the education of young people, thus anticipating new forms of apostolate in the Church.

In the centenary of his death, which took place on Jan. 31, 1888, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him The Father and Teacher of Youth.

Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: Salesian Missions. (2018, October 10). About St. John Bosco.