Fr. Arthur Lenti, SDB
BA, Don Bosco College; STL Salesian Pontifical Atheneum, Turin; STL, Pontificia Università Salesiana, Rome; SSL, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome. Awarded "Doctor of Sacred Theology - Honoris Causa" by DSPT on 25 Jan 2008.
Fr. Arthur teaches on the life and work of the founder of the Salesians, John (Don) Bosco, in context. Don Bosco (1815-1888) lived during the period of the liberal revolutions that swept through Western Europe in the nineteenth century and that produced modern nation-states with new political and social orders. The liberal revolution removed the old "legitimate" rulers and greatly reduced the influence of the institutional Church. In particular, Italy was united as a nation, and its new liberal institutions did away with the Papacy's temporal power. Don Bosco began and expanded his humanitarian and religious work in a progressively secularized society and growing anticlerical hostility, while the Catholic forces struggled to come to grips with the momentous changes. In this context, Fr. Arthur's course aims at presenting a critical view of Don Bosco's life and work. It is not just a matter of describing what Don Bosco did, but why and how he did it. His students are challenged to decide for themselves what their own particular cultural and religious situations may require, and what the appropriate Christian response in those situations might be.
Fr. Arthur teaches two courses on Don Bosco's life and work. However he is also interested in Old Testament study, with an emphasis on its historical background.
He has recently completed a seven-volume work entitled Don Bosco, History and Spirit, on the life of John Melchior Bosco (“Don Bosco,” 1815-1888). The first three volumes survey the life and times of John Melchior Bosco (“Don Bosco,” 1815-1888) up to 1864, with particular attention to nineteenth-century political, social and religious history. This survey looks at Don Bosco’s own education, at his spiritual and theological formation. It examines the growth of the work, and the founding and initial development of the Society of St. Francis de Sales, in the context of the liberal revolution and the unification of Italy (1848-1861).
The next four volumes describe Don Bosco’s life and work in the period following the unification of Italy. In this setting Don Bosco, History and Spirit discusses the institutional developments and organization of the Salesian Society. It describes Don Bosco’s further ministerial choices, and surveys the expansion of the Salesian work. At the same time it examines the development of permanent structures to guarantee the continuance of the Salesian work, and discusses some of the founder’s insights and ideas, especially as they emerge from the reflective writings of his maturity.
The seventh and final volume in the series, now available for purchase, surveys Don Bosco’s life and activity in the late seventies and eighties, roughly his last dozen years. These are his mature, reflective years; they are also the years of his quasi-retirement, gradually giving way to his sunset years. The volume concludes with the long-awaited general index of the series, a thorough and comprehensive fifty-eight page text, with 3 sections —places, persons, and topics.
The series, edited by Aldo Giraudo, of the Don Bosco Studies Center at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, is delineated as follows: