Spiritual Talk – Fr. Ho talks about St. John Bosco

by Kenny Cheng

St. John Bosco was an Italian priest renowned as an educator of youth. Born on August 16th, 1815 and died in 1888, he came from a poor family of five: his father Francesco, his mother Margherita, his older half-brother Antonio, and his older brother Giuseppe. Francesco originally had Antonio through his first wife, Maria, who passed away one day in February 1811. An acquaintance of the Bosco family, Margherita would regularly visit their home to comfort 8-year-old Antonio and Francesco’s elderly mother. Although Margherita had rejected suitors much wealthier than him, Francesco wanted a mother for Antonio, and following his mother’s advice, proposed to Margherita. To his surprise, Margherita agreed and the couple married in 1812, giving birth to Giuseppe and John Bosco. One day in 1817, Francis came home sweaty from work, caught pneumonia, and passed away. Before his death, he told Rita not to be overly upset, saying it was God’s will, and entrusting the children to her care. Only 2 years old at the time, John Bosco did not remember much of his father, but only the pain he felt on being told by his tearful mother at Francesco’s deathbed that he was now fatherless. Perhaps it was God’s will that he lose his father so that he could later become the father figure so many youths needed, having first experienced the pain of being orphaned.

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