GLOBAL: Saint John (Don) Bosco chosen among patron saints for World Youth Day 2019
(MissionNewswire) Saint John (Don) Bosco has been chosen among eight great heroes of the Catholic church to intercede for pilgrims during World Youth Day 2019. The worldwide encounter with the pope is celebrated every three years and held in a different country. The most recent World Youth Day was celebrated in Krakow, Poland from July 26-31, 2016 and the next will be held in Panama City, Panama from Jan. 22-27, 2019.
During the event, youth pray their intentions for themselves, their loved ones and the whole world. These prayers are often entrusted to the intercessors chosen as patrons for the World Youth Day event. This year, Don Bosco was chosen along with Saint José Sánchez del Rio, Saint Juan Diego, Blessed Sor María Romero Meneses (a Salesian sister with Daughter of Mary Help of Christians), Saint John Paul II, Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Saint Martin de Porres and Saint Rose of Lima. The saints and blessed chosen are known for a commitment to youth, or for a connection to the host country or region.
The work of Salesian missionaries was started in 1859 by Don Bosco, a young priest, along with 18 young men who were once poor street children cared for by him. Their goal was to bring hope to thousands of poor youth and instill in them confidence while training them in the skills needed for a better life. Despite the anti-religious age in which Don Bosco lived, he served thousands before his death. More than 125 years later, this legacy continues and affects millions of children in need.
Don Bosco was born in the village of Becchi in northern Italy on Aug. 16, 1815. From an early age, he was drawn to helping disadvantaged youth. He joined the seminary in 1835 and supported himself by working as a tailor, blacksmith, shoemaker, carpenter, violinist, acrobat and magician. His various talents would later help him to meet and inspire youth in need. As the founder of the Salesian order, he spent his ministry educating and helping improve the lives of disadvantaged children by setting up homes and schools for them within the city of Turin, Italy, as well as in other parts of the world.
During the Industrial Revolution, Don Bosco saw many young boys migrating from villages to towns looking for better education and work opportunities only to end up sleeping on the streets facing exploitation and often being forced to beg for food and other basic needs. He began looking out for these young boys, meeting with employers to ask for better wages and treatment for them. Eventually, he founded a trade school to help young people develop skills and gain an education. He also introduced many to music and sports. Don Bosco died on Jan. 31, 1888 and was canonized as a saint in 1934.
Today, Salesian missionaries educate more than 1 million youth in more than 5,300 primary and secondary schools and nearly 1,000 vocational, technical and agricultural schools. To date, more than 3 million youth have participated in Salesian programs operated by more than 30,000 Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries around the globe. Salesian programs provide poor youth and their families access to education, workforce development, humanitarian relief, youth clubs, health services, feeding programs and more.
“Salesian missionaries are dedicated to caring for poor youth through programs that are innovative in design and customized to meet local needs,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Missionaries focus on helping young people become self-sufficient through education and skills training that leads to employment, which in turn builds strong communities.”
Salesian missionaries are widely considered one of the largest private providers of vocational and technical training in the world. Programs focus on helping vulnerable youth in some of the poorest places on the planet by providing access to educational opportunities that match local workforce development needs. Through Salesian skills training programs, youth are able to gain the skills necessary to find and retain stable employment. This work helps grow local economies and breaks the cycle of poverty for poor youth and their families.