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Salesian Family

The Salesian Family in the Mind of Don Bosco

ART. 1    God’s design in the plan of the Founder.

With souls full of joy and sentiments of humble gratitude, we express our certainty that, through the initiative of God and the motherly intervention of Mary, Don Bosco gave rise in the Church to an original evangelical experience.

The Spirit formed in him a heart as great as the shores of the sea, and made him the Father and Teacher of a multitude of young people and the founder of a vast spiritual family.

Pastoral charity, which finds its source and exemplar in Christ the Good Shepherd, was for Don Bosco the criterion of life and activity, the inspiration of educational work and evangelization, of prayer and missionary impulse; his Da mihi animas coetera tolle brings together into unity his love for God and for the young.

To meet the needs of the young and the common people of his time, Don Bosco founded the Salesians, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Cooperators. Many other apostolic forces, with specifically distinct vocations but living in the same spirit and in communion with each other, continue his work of education and salvation at the present day.

In this way was born a true school of holiness which continues in our own time. From Don Bosco the Founder, subsequent founders of new groups draw inspiration and guidance, spirituality and pastoral method. The Groups live, preserve, deepen and constantly develop, in harmony with the Body of Christ in perpetual growth, the experience of the Holy Spirit which Don Bosco lived and continues to pass on to his followers.

ART. 2    A spiritual and apostolic family in development

Don Bosco, through his stature of holiness, finds a unique place among the founders of religious institutes in the Church. His life became an epic, his rule a spirit, his holiness a type and model. And we may say with hearts full of gratitude to God that the initial beginnings from being a small stream have now become a torrent.

Don Bosco dreamt of a many-sided mission to the young and the poor and welded the efforts of as many as shared his educative and saving plan into a vast movement. The prodigious fertility of the Salesian Family, a significant phenomenon in the perennial vitality of the Church, is evidence of this.

The Salesian Family of Don Bosco is made up of three central groups (SDB, FMA, Cooperators) to whose foundation he himself gave much time, energy, and formative and organizational expertise, because they constituted the key and nucleus of his work, and of a constellation of many other groups. From him the Association of Mary Help of Christians took its rise, and the Association of his Past-pupils came into being almost as a gift on his feastday.

As in the great religious Orders, so in the initial charismatic experiences of Don Bosco there are implicit genuine indications of growth and development.

The awareness of a spiritual kinship and of a common apostolic responsibility has brought about fraternal relationships and exchanges between the groups and a unique presence which they have in the Church among young people and especially those particularly in need.

(drawn from The Common Identity Card)


Very early Don Bosco needed help. He called for volunteers. Little by little the Salesian Family was formed.

It is a big family, now organized and structured, that seeks, in the context of our world at the dawn of the 21st century, to respond to the numerous and pressing hungers of youth and the youth culture.

All those who feel themselves called to share in the mission of Don Bosco may do so in whatever different “state of life” they are and become part of the Salesian Family.
The Salesians, Salesian Sisters and Cooperators were founded by Don Bosco himself.
The Salesian Past Pupils whose local and national associations formally belong to the World Confederation are also members of this spiritual Family.

The Salesian Cooperators (SC)

In 1876, he established the Association of the Salesian Cooperators, a lay branch of the Salesian Family Men or women, they constitute the true “Salesians in the world”, who may be lay persons or secular priests without religious vows but bound by a promise. It is a vast international movement committed to a mission for the young and the poor according to the educative approach of Don Bosco. They are at the service of the local Church, in union and collaboration with the whole Salesian Family but with specific responsibilities.
Friends dear to the heart of Don Bosco and precious labourers in the service of the Church, Salesian Cooperators work alongside Salesian Religious for the salvation of the young and abandoned youth.
In this way the dream of a child took its form in history.
But this dream is always in the process of being realized.
He had said: « I make a rough copy but my Salesians will make the good one”.

And Don Bosco’s charism still calls today!

Volunteers of Don Bosco (DBV)

They are consecrated women, members of a Secular Institute.. Without living in community, without changing their occupation, the Don Bosco Volunteers consecrate themselves by vow to God. They are more than 1300 in the world today. Blessed Philip Rinaldi, the third successor of Don Bosco, founded them in 1917. Since a few years a similar group exists for men (CDB).

It is a way to answer the call of consecrating oneself to God in the service of the young while continuing to live in their own home.

The Salesian Family also includes other associations, such as the Past Pupils of Don Bosco. As of today (2011), 28 male and female Congregations, Secular Institutes and lay Associations form the Salesian Family. All reflect in their lives the spirituality of Don Bosco.