His name was John Bosco, and he is a saint who brought the Gospel to the young while bringing the Church to the realization that it must reach out to youth. Born in a northern Italian farm village, John Bosco began teaching the Faith to local farm children while he himself was still a boy. He became more aware of God's call to care for youth when, as a young priest in 1841, he began a ministry among poor working boys of Italy's industrial center, Turin. Starting with a handful of teenagers, Don (an Italian word for Father) Bosco soon had several hundred coming to him every week for Mass, religious instruction and recreation.
He referred to this informal Sunday gathering as the Oratory of St. Francis De Sales, which he named in honor of the great bishop of Geneva who was known for his gentleness and kindness. From that first youth group, Don Bosco was to initiate youth centers, academic and trade schools, churches, seminaries, and world wide missionary activity, all centered on the young and on their needs. Don Bosco's own boys became his helpers. In 1859, a group of 19 young men joined Saint John Bosco and formed the Society of St. Francis de Sales. Within a few years, a group of young women, under the leadership of Saint Mary Mazzarello, joined him to form the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Together with a large group of Lay Salesians, these, 34,000 Priests, Brothers and Sisters from the Salesian Family to serve youth in over 100 nations around the world.