Bosco Day 2024: Remembering A Patron Saint

On January 31, St. John Bosco (SJB) Vocational Training Centre celebrated Bosco Day. On this day in 1960, the Sisters of Mercy of Jamaica opened a new home for rural boys where all were free to learn, grow and reach their full potential in a caring environment. Interestingly, under the vision of Sister Marie Therese Watson, RSM, the institution was built with the aim to replicate the success of its Kingston-based counterpart, the Alpha Boys Home/School, within a rural setting. The school shares its name with St. John Bosco, a Catholic priest and saint who devoted his life to care for and train orphan boys who strove to escape poverty. Due to the clear parallels between his life’s work (having run an orphanage and trade school for boys) and the work of Sisters of Mercy, the St. John Bosco Boys’ Home was not only named after him, but was also opened on the day (January 31), which marks the celebration of the “Feast of St. John Bosco” in the Roman Catholic calendar.

Born in 1815 in a poor town in Italy, St. John Bosco grew up with very few resources. From an early age, he felt God’s call to one day join the priesthood, however this, at the time, seemed like no more than a pipe dream due to his humble beginnings/origins and lack of education. He, like many of the boys we have cared for at SJB, dreamt of pursuing a noteworthy career but was held back by his lack of education and skills. All was not lost, however, as two priests, at separate times of his life, took him under their wings and provided him with a basic level of education as well as religious teachings at the local seminary. Bosco was finally ordained a priest in 1841 after which he opened a large institution which housed a vocational training school, a grammar school, an orphanage and a church. He believed not only in education, but in meeting the needs of the whole person by showing kindness and understanding to each and every child.

On this special day, our students honoured the memory of St. John Bosco by watching a movie depicting his life and work. Afterwards, students had the opportunity to share their thoughts on and interpretations of various memorable quotes attributed to the patron saint. Inspired by the example set by St. John Bosco, our institution has nurtured and equipped countless young men (and, now, women too!) to become self-sufficient entrepreneurs, professionals, skilled labourers and responsible citizens of Jamaica. Likewise, by allowing students the opportunity to reflect on and connect with the values and mission of our namesake, we hope to encourage them to take up the mantle themselves and build on his legacy going forward in their own lives.

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