In retrospect, one can appreciate why Don Bosco had become so distraught by the message that was played out in his dream (reverie?) during his Roman sojourn of 1884. His old friends, Joseph Buzzelli and Ferdinando Valfre, had demonstrated all too realistically what he could expect when the educational principles of his Sistema Preventivo and the “love environment” he strove so hard to cultivate for 40 years at the Oratory had been allowed to dissipate.
As he dictated the account of his dream to his secretary, Father Lemoyne, he realized to his dismay that his beloved Oratory had become just like any other 19th century educational institution.
As Don Bosco studied the conduct of the Oratory students against the backdrop of Buzzetti’s commentary, one thing more than any other struck home. The Oratory as a home for homeless children was no more. The father image of the director had been replaced by some vague and ineffective school administrator.
Reference time period: 1884 – 1927
M. Ribotta, The Roman Letter of 1884 and its aftermath, in «Journal of Salesian Sudies» 5 (1994) 2, 1-21.
Institute of Salesian Studies