In 1865, Fr Rua joined Don Bosco in Turin, sick and overload by work.Valdocco was a very big house at which a boarding house was added to it. It had 700 students. The original spirit of Valdocco was waning down.
With both firm and kind attitude Don Rua manage little by little to mend bad practices and attitudes and restores good discipline among the students
But in July 1868, he got peritonitis which prostrates him in bed for long time
The doctors give him few hours of life.. Seeing at the table the Holy Oils for the administration of Extreme Unction, Don Bosco said: "Listen, Don Rua, I assure you that you will not die, even if you throw yourself from the window." In fact, a few days later, despite the predictions of the doctors, the patient is out of danger.
After his recovery, Don Rua resumes half of the work if not more of Don Boscos work and concerns.
He was able to deal with the innumerable tasks as he had an analytic and methodical mind, he knew how to handle distress, he had a prodigious memory, he was tenacious at work, and he had the ability to involve others in his work, but mostly he did it because of the love he had for Don Bosco.
He strived to make his entire day a continual prayer. He changed his work, worries and fatigue of every day into a continuous prayer. His actions took place under the eyes of God and Mary.
However, little by little, the zeal of Don Rua for compliance and discipline end loosing the hearts of the boys. He was feared more than loved. The young people used to say: "Better a 'no' of Don Bosco that a" yes "Don Rua."
Don Bosco takes him off from the responsibility of the Prefect of discipline and takes him with him full-time. Everything is now in common between them, sometimes even the charisma to perform miracles.
In fact, one day, a distressful mother brought his son to Don Bosco as the doctors did not give any hope to live. Don Bosco was overburden with work, so he asked Don Rua to give to the child the blessing of Mary Help of Christians. Don Rua gave the blessing and the child was cured immediately.
But as the two priests worked very closely, each retained their own personality. Different approach to matters, lively discussions and differences of opinion were part of every day life : Don Bosco was remarkably focused on the work of the day, he was a very daring person. Don Rua, was cautious, guarded, and tried to minimize the margin for the unexpected.
In 1884, the state of health of Don Bosco raises fears for his life. Pope Leo XIII asked him discreetly to provide his own successor. On 24 September 1885, Don Bosco appointed Don Rua to succeed him
Yesterday, a man of discipline shown in his severe exterior, the new Superior becomes more relaxed, his voice takes on overtones of sweetness, a good smile illuminates the face. Don Bosco died on the 31st January 1888.
Don Rua wrote: "Our soul can only be consoled by the thought that God is infinitely good, does not do anything that is not just and wise."
The evening of that day, when everyone left the church in which it was exposed the remains of Don Bosco, Don Rua remained for two hours in prayer before him. When he got up, his soul was full of a new force to take him on the daunting task that awaited him.
Save your soul, it is everything, it is everything! " Sr. Alba Vernazza fma