John Bosco was born on August 16, 1815, in a small town not too far from Turin, Italy. His father died when he was two years old. He was raised with tender love, yet firm discipline, by his mother, Margaret. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1841 and went to work in Turin, where the industrial revolution was attracting waves of young people to the city. The misery and abandonment of these youngsters moved John Bosco deeply.
He dedicated his life to them and began youth clubs for them. He then started hostels and boarding schools, where he taught them trades. In 1854 he founded the Salesian Society and in 1872, the Salesian Sisters to work for girls. Three years later, he sent the first missionary group to Argentina. His work spread throughout the mission world and today more than half the Society works in mission lands.
The educational philosophy of John Bosco can be condensed in three words: reason, religion, and kindness. The basic principle of his system was a deep understanding and love for young people and their problems.
John Bosco died on January 31, 1888. Today the Salesian Family numbers 40,000 members working in over 100 countries.