Who are the Salesians?

The Salesians are a family of men and women founded by an Italian Catholic priest, Fr. John Bosco. Fr. John Bosco was popularly known as “Don” Bosco, using the Italian word Don to mean Father Bosco.

He began his work in Turin, Italy, in the mid-1800s by gathering poor boys and young men that had no place to live and little education. He established a place called an oratory where these young people could gather and call their home. It was the beginning of a movement grounded in John’s educational style based on reason, religion and loving kindness. Or, to put it more simply, “work and temperance.” He developed teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method that became known as the Salesian Preventive System. From among the young men at the oratory, he founded a religious congregation, the Salesian Society, which consisted of priests and brothers.

Don Bosco was a follower of Saint Francis de Sales’ simple spirituality and philosophy of kindness and established the Society of St. Francis de Sales in his honor in 1859 – popularly known as the Salesians. Don Bosco established a network of organizations and center to carry on his work.

With the help of Sr. Maria Domenca Mazzarello, Don Bosco founded a society for women, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, known as the Salesian Sister, dedicated to the care and education of poor girls.

Don Bosco also started with the help of many lay people. In 1876 Bosco founded a movement of lay persons, the Association of Salesian Cooperators, with the same educational mission to the poor.

Following his beatification in 1929, he was canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Since then his society has been known as the Salesians of Don Bosco.

Today, the Salesians continue his mission of making each Salesian school, parish, youth center, or other work a home where young people are welcome, a school where they learn the lessons of life, a parish where they gather to deepen their spirituality, and a playground where they can meet friends. These offer a variety of dynamic activities designed to help young people to reach their full potential and achieve happiness in this life and in the next.