20150921 Don Bosco found Oratory

St. John Bosco finished his three years studies at the Convitto in 1844. With the recommendation of St. Cafasso, he accepted the position to serve the spiritual needs of girls at an institute established by Marchioness Julie Frances de Colbert. Marchioness gave Don Bosco a place to gather young people on Sundays. There was a strip of land for the boys to play and to run about, and the boys would also come up to the rooms of Don Bosco and Don Borel for confessions. Don Bosco wrote, “Rooms, corridors and stairways were choked with boys. There were two of us hearing confessions and two hundred who wanted to confess.”

“One wanted to light the fire and another would put it out. One would stack the firewood, while another spilt the water. Buckets, tongs, shovel, jugs, basins, chairs, shoes, books, everything was turned upside down, because everyone wanted to put them in order.”

On December 8, 1844 Don Bosco called his centre for boys the “Oratory of St, Francis de Sales”. He said, “The Marchioness had placed a painting of the Saint at the entrance to the place. Our ministry also called for great calmness and kindness. And so we placed ourselves under the protection of St. Francis de Sales, that he might obtain for us the grace of his extraordinary meekness.”

In order to purchase books, clothes and other materials for the boys, Don Bosco made the sacrifice by going to people to ask for donation.

With the recommendation of the Archbishop of Turin, the municipality granted Don Bosco the permission in July 1845 to make use of the chapel of the City Mills for the purpose of catechizing the boys from noon to 3 p.m.. However, after a few Sundays, the Mill Office sent a strong complain letter to the municipality against the Oratory. Hence the municipality decided that the permission would not be renew for the following year.

Since then, Don Bosco only use the chapel of the City Mills as a rallying point. He would bring to boys to other places and churches. He wrote, “In those churches, I would celebrate Mass and explain the gospel. In the afternoon I would teach a little catechism, tell stories and sing hymns. Then we would go for walks until it was time for the boys to return home. It looked as if this arrangement would mark the end of the Oratory, but instead the number of boys simply increased.”

For winter activities, Don Bosco rented three rooms in a house belonging to Don Moretta. To keep the boys happy, Don Bosco had to resort to his sleight–of-hand and conjuring tricks. With the help of Don Carpano, Don Bosco also began regular evening classes. During the day, Don Bosco would often visit the boys at their work sites.

The Oratory of Don Bosco did not belong to any parish. It was an institution that went beyond the parish. Some parish priests in Turin were perplexed about the Oratory. They complained that boys were detaching themselves from their parishes and they did not know their parish priest. Two pastors were sent to talk to Don Bosco. He explained to them that nearly all of the boys were from out of town. They had come to Turin for work and were not under parental supervision. The various dialects, the instability of their domicile for reasons of work, and the example of their non-churchgoing friends were insurmountable obstacles that prevented the boys from coming to know and attend their parish church. Don Bosco attracted the boys to catechism class and church services through games and outings. Without these attractions, they probably would not go to any church at all. Eventually the pastors encouraged Don Bosco to continue his works.

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