假如我們不認識，就很難去愛；故此，聖若望.鮑思高神父相信要年青人熱愛信仰，必定要通過教授要理，讓他們認識自己的信仰。其實，早在一八四一年十二月八日，聖人已開始教導年青人：當時，他予一個未初領聖體的年幼孤兒講解要理，以教導他恭劃十字聖號作開端。不久，這孤兒又帶同了他的朋友一起學習；這樣，學習的人數漸漸增多，遂把這學習小組冠以「慶禮院Oratory」名稱。由於參與的青年日眾，鮑思高神父干脆開辦寄宿學校收容他們。團體不斷壯大之時，有些青年也跟隨聖人渡修道的生活；聖人因此在一八五九年十二月十九日成立了聖方濟.沙雷修會The Congregation of St. Francis de Sales，乃後來普認的「慈幼會」。
Father and teacher of youth
The Salesian Congregation, founded by St. John Bosco, will celebrate its 150th anniversary Dec. 19. The Salesian method of education involves reason, religion, and kindness.
St. John Bosco believed in thorough catechetical instruction for young people. In order to love our holy religion, we must know it; we cannot love what we do not know. St. John Bosco began his work for the young as a priest on Dec. 8, 1841, when he gave catechetical instruction to a young boy, an orphan who had not received his First Communion.
The first lesson St. John Bosco taught him was the Sign of the Cross. Later, this young boy brought friends to St. John Bosco for instruction; eventually the group of boys became a group called the Oratory.
The group continued to grow, and finally St. John Bosco opened a boarding school for them. When the school became too small, St. John Bosco opened other schools. Some of St. John Bosco’s students followed him into religious life, and on Dec. 19, 1859, the Congregation of St. Francis de Sales (the Salesians) was born.
In the last 150 years the Salesians have imparted religious, academic, and technical knowledge to many thousands of students, helping them to grow humanly, intellectually, and spiritually.
Holy Eucharist, confession, and devotion to Mary are the pillars of Salesian spirituality. St. John Bosco proposed these supernatural means as effective ways to safeguard and foster the virtue of chastity.
St. John Bosco valued chastity. Franciscans emphasize poverty, Dominicans emphasize obedience, and Salesians emphasize chastity. Salesians strive to provide young people with a healthy atmosphere of “work, pray, and play” to safeguard purity and to foster virtue.
Many vocations have been fostered in the Salesian environment. Many young children have the germ of a vocation, but if vocations are not fostered they can easily be lost during high school years.
Good surroundings and influences help to foster vocations. It is very important to help young people keep in touch with the holy, especially through prayer and the sacraments. It is very edifying to see that many young people today are devoted to Eucharistic adoration, and I hope that this will help to foster many vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
“Being present” is love in action. One of the characteristics of the Salesians is the apostolate of presence and watchfulness. The presence of religious priests and brothers among young boys is an effective way to prevent them from sinning. This presence is also a sign of God’s loving presence among the young.
Before I came to Canada I studied five years at a Salesian high school in Hong Kong. The language of presence of the Salesians is one of the things I remember best, prompting me to consider the holy priesthood. Now, as a priest, I strive to speak the same language to the young people entrusted to my pastoral care.
Salesians also show kindness to young people through appreciation of efforts, friendliness, patient listening to their personal concerns, and playing with them on the playground. St. John Bosco’s first care was to win the heart of the student in order to guide him effectively to goodness.
Let us pray that all Catholic educators be inspired by the life of St. John Bosco and by the works of the Salesians