Occhiena was born in Capriglio in Asti. At the age of 24, she married Francesco Bosco who was a widower. The untimely death of her husband left the 29-year-old Margherita a single mother with three sons: Antonio, Joseph and John. She also cared for her mother-in-law and brother-in-law. Being a strong woman with clear ideas, helped Margherita raise her sons with a regimen of sober living at once severe, sweet and reasonable. The boys were quite different in temperament. Still, Margherita made sure she presented them with the beginnings of a Christian education. She gave them the example of faith, wisdom, and courage in facing the difficulties of life.
Though she herself was illiterate, Margherita’s wisdom and goodness helped her in keeping her family united. The situation John, the youngest child, found himself in, made life difficult for him to take his education seriously. To keep peace in the family, Margherita convinced Anthony, who wished John to help him work in the fields, to let John leave home to continue his schooling. With the loving prayers and support of his mother, John was able to complete his studies and be ordained as a priest. Facing various obstacles and hard times, at times even finding closed doors by the Bishop himself, did not stop John from pursuing his dream. John recalls his mother speaking to him about the possibility of becoming a priest. “ When it boils down to this, I have no say, if you feel God wants this from you, then so be it. I do not expect anything back from you – remember that. I was born poor, have lived poor and want to continue living this way. Actually, I will tell you this – if you decide to become a priest and use that to become more famous, I will not come to visit – make sure you remember that!”
John went on to become Saint John Bosco or Don Bosco, a name familiar to many. 2015 marks the 200th year anniversary since John was born to Margherita. The story of John’s upbringing and Margherita’s sacrifice, courage and faith is still considered a great example to mothers nowadays. In fact, the need to know more about Mamma Margherita (as she is known within the Salesian family), inspired the Salesian family from the Oratory in Sliema to share Margherita’s story through a theatrical production.
Having created an original script, carefully creating the music and lyrics for the songs to be sung by the choir and played by the live band, choreographing moves to compliment the elements of the story as well as adding touches of fun animation, the Salesian Oratory are proud to present the production: “Għalik Ma”. The story features Don Bosco and Mamma Margherita discussing and sharing their thoughts and insights during some of the main stories of Don Bosco’s life.
Under the experienced direction of Lino Ferris, a member of Atturi Salesjani, a group who has shared their passion for performing arts with all those participating, rehearsals have been taking place since July and various participants of all ages have joined in to tell the story. Overall it is a manifestation of talents of members of the Salesian Oratory, indeed a hive of activities to be admired.