“The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”
At a very young age John Bosco lost his father; then, as a teenager he left home in order to follow his dream of studying for the priesthood. He knew from experience what it was to be fatherless and homeless. This double loss of father and home opened his heart, in turn, to the wounded hearts of so many young people. They discovered in his compassionate heart a place they could call home.
A significant turning point, in his response to God’s call, came through his visiting young people in prison. These visits re-kindled an earlier dream of his childhood where he felt himself called by God to become an apostle of the young. He now understood his childhood inspiration in a new way: if young people had someone to befriend or guide them, they wouldn’t end up in prison. He began with Sunday catechism and games in a field, which soon progressed to a daily trade school in an adapted shed. As he helped young people find employment, he fought for their rights, proper working conditions and contracts.
Not without difficulty, God’s dream began to unfold as God provided help through many people, including his own mother. Among the first group, who received the ‘good news’ from Don Bosco, some of them decided to follow his Salesian way of gentleness and loving kindness. Thus, the Salesian congregation numbered many teenagers among its first followers.
St John Bosco’s story reveals how the response of one man to God’s dream can make a significant difference to the lives of others. This year (2015) we celebrate 200 years of his birth. His fidelity to God’s dream for him has allowed the Salesian charism to spread all over the world. Today, a vast variety of works – schools of all kinds, working with street children and homeless young people, chaplaincies, youth clubs, missionaries, parishes, retreats etc. give testimony to its power and inspiration.
Could God be calling you to share in his dream for the young?