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The Feast of St. John Bosco and Salesian Studies at DSPT

January 31, 2023

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Bosco. Born in Castlenuovo d’Asti on August 16, 1815, John was educated in the faith and in living according to the Gospel message by his mother. He was just nine years old when he had a dream, which called him to dedicate himself to the education of young people. While still a boy, he began to entertain his peers with games alternated with work, prayer and religious education.

On becoming a priest (1841), he chose as his life’s program: “Da mihi animas cetera tolle” (“Give me souls, take all the rest” Gen. 14: 21). He began his mission among poor young people with the founding of the Oratory, which he placed under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales. He led young people to meet Christ by means of his 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.

The source of his indefatigable activity and of the effectiveness of his work was his “constant union with God” and his unlimited confidence in the Virgin Mary, who he considered to be the inspiration and support of his whole work. He left, as an inheritance for his Salesian sons and daughters, 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 Cooperator Salesians to work alongside him and sustain the education of young people, thus anticipating new forms of apostolate in the Church. In the centenary of Don Bosco's death, which took place on 31 January 1888, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him The Father and Teacher of Youth.

Located at Don Bosco Hall, 1831 Arch Street, Berkeley, the Institute of Salesian Studies (ISS) is an unincorporated program offering study and formative experiences in the tradition of the Salesian Family of St. John Bosco for members of the Salesian family, as well as for others whose background and interests align with the Salesian expertise in Christian education and youth ministry. As an affiliated institute, the Institute of Salesian Studies has opened its doors to DSPT students. Through the Institute of Salesian Studies, the students not only explore the history and charism of the Salesian Order but also receive a formal training in Catholic spiritual theology. Likewise, DSPT has opened their doors to the Salesian brothers to receive a formal training in philosophy and theology in the classical tradition. Additionally, our DSPT community is blessed and grateful to have Fr. Joseph Boenzi, SDB, a scholar and a brilliant teacher, as an important member of our regular faculty.  

On this feast day, we pray for all the Salesians, especially Fr. Boenzi and his companions at the Institute of Salesian Studies in Berkeley.

Happy Feast of St. John Bosco!