DON BOSCO, OUR FOUNDER (1815-1888)
Don Bosco was born on August 16, 1815, at Becchi, in Piedmont, Italy. He was educated by his mother in the Catholic Christian faith and in the consistent practice of the Gospel message. While still a boy, his ardent desire to do good prompted him to entertain his companions and friends with games to which he added prayer and religious instruction. He was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1841. He chose as his life motto, “Give me souls, take away the rest.”
His style of education and pastoral practice based on reason, religion and loving kindness, which he called the “Preventive system” enabled him to help many young people particularly the poor and abandoned ones.
Don Bosco founded the FMA (Daughters of Mary Help of Christian) known as the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco in 1872 with Mary Mazzarello, the Co-Foundress.
The source of his tireless and efficacious work was a constant union with God and limitless trust in Mary. He, as father and teacher of youth, tirelessly undertook various activities and educated the young people by preparing them to face life, making them good Christians and honest citizens. He used to say “It is not enough to love the young, but they must feel that they are loved.”
Today, Don Bosco Fathers and Brothers numbering about 16,000 carry on his work for the education and well being of youth through youth centres, formal and technical schools, colleges and hostels in the five continents of the world.
ST. MARY MAZZARELLO, OUR CO-FOUNDRESS (1837-1881)
St. Mary Mazzarello was born on May 9, 1837 in Mornese, Italy. In 1872 Don Bosco, in collaboration with Mary Mazzarello, founded the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters to work for the young girls, particularly the poor and the abandoned.
St. Mary Mazzarello was a born educator, who accomplished great work among the young people of her time. She proved herself adept in spiritual training and guidance, radiating joy and involving other young women in a commitment to the education of young girls, “Be always a cheerful giver” was her motto.
She too did received a heavenly mandate, while walking down the uninhabited slopes of Borgo Alto, she saw a group of girls playing in the non- existent playground and a strong voice- firm and steady, communicated to her the divine mission: “I entrust them to you.” Was it a dream, a hallucination? Yet there she was awake. Walking in full consciousness…
In Mary Mazzarello a like-minded soul, Salesian by instinct, Don Bosco found a ready, active and creative collaborator. In 1872, he founded the Society of the Salesian Sisters(FMA) with Mary Mazzarello.
Mary Mazzarello left her daughters an educational charism permeated by holiness of life and translated into love of God and neighbor.
The Salesian Sisters numbering around 13,000 are working in 94 countries through 1800 educational centres in all the continents of the World. India welcomed the first Salesian Sisters in 1922 and in Northeast, 1923.