"No sooner did I enter the Convitto, than a crowd of boys began to follow me through the streets and squares, even into the sacristy of the Convitto church. But I could not give them much attention for I had no suitable place to assemble them."
One day, he was already in the sacristy of the Convitto, waiting for a server when a poorly dressed boy, he witnessed, was being harassed by the sacristan. The poor boy was about a fourteen or fifteen year old fellow.
Don Bosco: What is your name, my good friend?
Bartholomew: Bartholomew Garelli.
Don Bosco: Where do you come from?
Don Bosco: What is your job?
Don Bosco: Is your father living?
Bartholomew: No, he's dead.
Don Bosco: And your mother
Bartholomew: She's dead too.
Don Bosco: How old are you?
Don Bosco: Can you read or write?
Don Bosco: Can you sing?
Bartholomew: The boy was rather surprised with this question of Don Bosco, he answered: "No."
Don Bosco: Can you whistle?
Here, the boy smiled. Don Bosco was pleased by the response of the boy because he seemed at ease with him. He exactly wanted that.
Don Bosco: Tell me, have you made your first Communion?
Bartholomew: Not yet.
Don Bosco: Did you ever go to confession?
Bartholomew: Yes, when I was little.
Don Bosco: Do you attend catechism class?
Bartholomew: No, I don't dare.
Don Bosco: Why not?
Bartholomew: Because the smaller voice already know it, while I'm bigger and don't know a word. So I'm ashamed to go to class with them.
Don Bosco: If I were to teach you catechism privately, would you come and learn?
Don Bosco: Even here?
Bartholomew: Yes, as long as they don't beat me up.
Don Bosco: Don't be afraid of that. No one will treat you unkindly again, as I've already told you. From now on you'll be my friend, and you will be dealing with me and no one else. When would you like to start our catechism lessons?
Bartholomew: Whenever you like.
Don Bosco: This evening perhaps.
Don Bosco: Even now?
Bartholomew: Yes. I'd like that very much.
The first lesson Don Bosco taught to the boy was on how to make the sign of the cross. Don Bosco also taught him about God and the reason why He created us, and saved us. Some minutes later, he bid good bye to the boy with much kindness. As a token of that first encounter, Don Bosco gave the boy a medal of the Blessed Mother as he made him promise to return the following Sunday.
That simple encounter, that first catechism is the start of the oratory. It commenced the mission of Don Bosco, to take care of the poor and abandoned youth.