When I was young, there were saints that held a special place in the hearts of Catholic school children, especially those holy people who were dedicated to education or who were young themselves when their “saintliness” was already evident. Most often, their influence was obvious at the end of the school year when final exam time rolled around. Today is the feast of St. John Bosco (1815-1888), one of the influential inspirations to whom we prayed for help with the answers on our tests!
St. John Bosco was dedicated to teaching children, first preparing them for receiving the sacrament of Eucharist and then gathering young apprentices and teaching them catechism lessons as well. Realizing the importance of a well-rounded education, he sought to connect the spiritual life of students with work, study and play. A novel idea was the addition to the curriculum of two workshops in shoemaking and tailoring; later he added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. Fr. Don Miller, OFM reflects on John Bosco’s interest in vocational education saying, “Because John realized the importance of job-training and the self-worth and pride that come with talent and ability, he trained his students in the trade crafts too.” (http://www.franciscanmedia.org)
As we consider the value of institutes of higher learning, we also ought to be thankful for those graduates of trade schools who influence our lives in so many positive and sometimes essential ways: plumbers and electricians, skilled carpenters and roofers – and, in this modern world especially, those technicians who can fix the computers that have become such an omnipresent component of our lives. May we honor the diversity of the streams of education and celebrate the talents that animate gifted crafts persons who bring excellence to their work for the benefit of us all.