theory of education could well be used in today's schools. It was a preventive system, rejecting
corporal punishment and placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing
sin. He advocated frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. He combined
catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite the spiritual life with one's work,
study and play.
Encouraged during his youth to become a priest so he could
work with young boys, John was ordained in 1841. His service to young people started when he met a
poor orphan and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. He then gathered young
apprentices and taught them catechism.
After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, John opened the
Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for boys. Several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money,
enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys, shoemaking and tailoring.
By 1856, the institution
had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical
pamphlets. His interest in vocational education and publishing justify him as patron of young
apprentices and Catholic publishers.
John's preaching fame spread and by 1850 he had trained his own helpers because
of difficulties in retaining young priests. In 1854 he and his followers informally banded together,
inspired by St. Francis de Sales [January 24].
With Pope Pius IX's encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the
Salesians in 1859. Their activity concentrated on education and mission work. Later, he organized a
group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.