Our Salesian Family is a caring group of people from all walks of life and all corners of the earth who are dedicated to making life better for the world’s poorest and neediest children and families.

We are led by nearly 30,000 missionaries including Salesian Priests, Brothers, Sisters and novices who serve as Salesians of Don Bosco (S.D.B.), the second largest order in the Roman Catholic Church. We are joined by thousands of passionate volunteers, committed lay staff and generous donors.

If you are already a member of the Salesian Family, we would like to thank you for your outstanding support of our mission and dedicate this website to you.

If you would like to become part of our family, we welcome you with open arms. There are a number of ways you can become  involved and we invite you to learn more by contacting us.

Groups In The Family

Past Pupils of the FMA130,000
The Association of Mary Help of Christians100,000
Past Pupils of Don Bosco97,357
Salesian Co-operators26,239
Salesians of Don Bosco (with novices and bishops)15,762
Daughters of Mary Help of Christians14,655
The Association of the Damas Salesianas2,083
The Comunity of "Canção Nova"1,300
Women Volunteers of Don Bosco1,230
The Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians1,050
The Sisters of Charity of Jesus990
Witnesses of the Risen Lord TR750
The Catechists Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians500
The Disciples - Secular Institute400
Daughters of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary378
The Congregation of St. Michael the Archangel357
Fraternidad comtemplativa maria de nazaret (FCMN)350
The Sisters of St Michael the Archangel (Michaelites)261
The Community of the Mission of Don Bosco (CMB)250
Salesian Oblates of the Sacred Heart221
The Daughters of the Divine Saviour167
Visitation Sisters of Don Bosco (VSDB)122
The Sisters of Maria Auxiliatrix110
The Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary109
Volunteers with Don Bosco82
Apostles of the Holy Family69
The Congregation of Sisters of the Resurrection50
The Daughters of the Queenship of Mary Immaculate37
The Sisters of the Queenship of Mary Immaculate29
The Sisters of Jesus the Adolescent26
The Congregation of the Sisters Announcers of the Lord23

Salesian Cooperators

The Salesian Cooperators are Catholics who are living the Gospel message in the spirit of Saint John Bosco while choosing to live in the world.

The Salesian Cooperators were the first group of youth ministers established by Don Bosco. He began his work in 1841 by gathering street kids and young workers on Sundays. Turin, Italy was an industrial town at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Child labor was common, and because of the economic crisis in the agricultural areas of Italy at the time, a massive amount of children and young people were leaving the farms to find work in the cities. The children worked six days a week but had Sundays off. Don Bosco gathered these street kids in vacant lots for a day of play. He brought them to Church for Mass and a catechism lesson.

To help him with the hundreds of boys who came to him, Don Bosco enlisted the help of several people and as well as a few local priests. Don Bosco knew he would need the help of other committed people of good will to care for the children. He invited people whom he felt had the talent and the desire to minister to young people. His own mother, Margarita, came to help him as well.

Don Bosco formed the Association of Salesian Cooperators in 1876 with the help of Pope Pius IX. The Cooperators were lay people who lived their lives as Don Bosco himself described in the little booklet, Salesian Cooperators, or A Practical Way Of Leading A Good Life And Being A Good Citizen.

The Salesian Cooperators are single or married lay men and women, or diocesan clergy, who dedicate themselves to the welfare of young people, and live guided by Don Bosco’s Salesian Spirit.

Generally the Salesian Cooperators are affiliated with a local Salesian school, parish and youth center. Some of the Cooperators work directly in Salesian ministries while others serve in their parishes or other ministries. Some Cooperators do not work directly with any particular ministry, but bring the Salesian Spirit to their workplace, profession and family.

The core of the Salesian Cooperator’s commitment is to live his or her life as a good Christian and a good Catholic. The Salesian Cooperator embraces a Gospel way of life, sharing in the Church’s mission to bring Christ to society, especially the young.

Source: Don Bosco Western province website

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA)

While the Salesian Society was growing and flourishing, the need was felt for a counterpart to do similar work for girls. Don Bosco had received a great many invitations to begin such a work, and this he eventually undertook, as was his custom, only upon receiving a clear sign from above. Once again, it was Our Lady who revealed God’s will to him. She appeared to him in one of the so-called dreams, or rather ‘visions,’ in which she was surrounded by a crowd of little girls. Our Lady then said to him: “Take care of them. They are my children.

Meanwhile Providence was preparing elsewhere the necessary subjects to help him begin the work. A certain zealous and pious priest of Mornese in the diocese of Acqui who had organized a small society of the more diligent and devoted girls of his parish under the name of ‘Pious Union of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception’, had, on meeting Don Bosco, decided to become a Salesian. Don Bosco, however, conscious of the great work done by this good priest in the parish, accepted him, but on condition that he stayed in his parish and carried on the work which he had been doing, especially for the little society.

Hence, in this way Don Bosco had contacted what could be termed the nucleus of his new Religious Society. He encouraged and helped them in every way, thus preparing them for the special task he had in store for them.

A New Religious Society

In the little group at Mornese, there was one who outshone all the others for her virtue, Mary Mazzarello. From her first meeting with Don Bosco at Mornese she had immediately discovered his sanctity and exclaimed: “Don Bosco is a saint, and I feel it…” From that time on, even though she had no idea of the designs of God, she humbly obeyed the directives given her by Don Bosco. She became his collaborator in the founding of the order, and followed his footsteps along the path of sanctity.

Under his guidance, then, the first young ladies were preparing, almost unconsciously, for the new work which, with the extraordinary help of Divine Providence, was soon brought to completion.

The Society of Salesian Sisters

On August 5, 1872, Don Bosco, in the presence of the Bishop of Acqui, began the Society of Salesian Sisters with the clothing ceremony and reception of the vows of the first fifteen Sisters. Thus after an intense preparation of prayer and meditation, not forgetting the fatherly encouragement of Pope Pius IX, he was able to raise up this new Society, which he named after Mary, Help of Christians, as a living memorial to her protection.

Springing from the same Founder, this Institute of Sisters has the same aim and program: that is, the religious perfection of each member by means of the observance of the vows, and by an apostolate among the young, especially the more needy. Identical is their motto: Da mihi animas, caetera tolle (Give me souls, take away the rest). Identical is their spirituality: intense fervor in their work. “So much work to do,” as Pius XI remarked. This was to be the distinguishing mark of all who work with St. John Bosco. Work done in union with God would be transformed into one continuous prayer. A new formula of prayerful work would succeed St. Benedict’s ‘Pray and Work’. They have the same educative system, based on kindness and meekness, in which the sacrifice of their lives is hidden, by their happiness and joy: the Preventive System of Don Bosco.

The same too are the three guiding lights of their sanctity: the Holy Eucharist, Our Lady, Help of Christians and the Pope.

As is usual for an undertaking destined by God to do great good, the beginning of the Society light the heroic virtues of the Co-foundress and poverty. These served only to bring more to light the heroic virtues of the Co-Foundress and her Sisters who formed the basis for the eventual remarkable growth of the Order.

In a few years there was a great increase in the number of houses and there were foundations abroad and in Mission territory, especially in South America.

St. Mary Mazzarello was able to leave, at her premature death (for she died after only nine years’ work in the Society), 189 sisters working in 26 houses in Italy, France, Uruguay, the Argentine and in the Patagonian Missions.

The Society was approved temporarily in 1911 and definitively in 1921. The stages of its history are marked by the place in which the headquarters were situated: Mornese, the birth-place, where the Superior Chapter stayed for 60 years; Nizza Monferrato, for about half a century, Turin where in 1919 they took up their present abode near the mortal remains of the two Founders, and today, Rome, the Eternal City.

Source: Don Bosco in the World

Past Pupils

The origin of the Past Pupils’ Movement is to be sought in the Preventive System, based as it is on the supernatural love of the Saint for the young. The pupils felt themselves loved by Don Bosco, not merely as pupils, but as sons, and consequently felt the need to return to their father’s house.

Even today the same spontaneous return is evidenced: a return to the school where the sensus revertendi is implanted and where all work with the spirit and method of Don Bosco. Thus it happened that the movement was not something thought up by the educators as a post-scholastic association, with predetermined ends and based on selected members, but was the work of forces which drew their origin and life from natural and vital causes.

The Past Pupils’ Association has now been in existence for more than 88 years. Its progress can be summarized in the following stages:

June 24, 1870

Beginnings: In the Mother House in Turin the past pupils, Reviglio and Gastini, the latter to become the first President, organized a demonstration expressing affection and gratitude towards Don Bosco on the occasion of his feast day.

Don Bosco encouraged this initiative and in the succeeding conventions in which he gladly participated, gave practical directives which later became the guiding lines of the Association.


When Don Bosco died, the Past Pupils who had felt themselves the objects of his lively concern, decided that the best way to honor the memory of their great benefactor would be to give a stable form to their Movement. In this way the Federation of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco emerged, and in successive Congresses, national and international, in Spain, France, Belgium and Argentina, it gave signs of fruitfulness and vitality.


Saw the first International Congress in Turin with representatives from 22 nations. The Italian Press, which gave the event prominence, called it “a new departure in the history of pedagogy.” This Congress brought out a plan for an International Statute. From this too we have the project for the Monument to Don Bosco erected in front of the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians, and the publication of the International Organ of the Association: Federazione


The International Movement in abeyance because of the First World War.


In May, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Don Bosco Monument, the second International Congress was held in Turin. Here were laid down the cardinal principles, theoretical and practical, of a new Statute adapted to the changed conditions: a milestone in the third period of the history of the Movement. More important still was the foundation of a monthly: Voci Fraterne to take the place of the Federazione suspended during the war. Here, too, were approved the design of the badge, common to members the world over, and the personal membership card.

It was suggested to the Superiors that the ‘Hail Mary’ for the Past-pupils should be included in the Salesian prayers. The office of International President was established; this office was first held by Prof. Gribaudi, who was succeeded by Avv. Masera, from whom Arturo Poesio, took over in 1938.


The International Movement again suspended because of the War and political events.


Intense activity in gathering together the threads, and reweaving the unity between the Center and the outlying Federations.


A Meeting of capital importance for the National Federation of Italy. Under the presidency of A. Poesio and with the collaboration of the fifth Successor of Don Bosco, through intensive study and discussions, it became a constituent Congress of the Organization by means of the formulation not only of local Regulations but also of the scheme of a General Statute.


In November, 1954, the World Convention, called ‘Incontro Fraterno’ (Brotherly Reunion) was held in Turin. Thirty-five National Presidents with their Delegates took part. The meetings were held under the Presidency of Arturo Poesio and were attended by the Rector Major and the Major Superiors. The officers of the World Confederation were nominated, the basic Statute and the pertinent observations discussed, and then this Statute was provisionally approved for one year, the confederation being empowered to meet to give it definitive formulation.

This Confederation Committee, composed of the President, three Vice Presidents (the President of the National Federations of Spain, France and Argentina), the Secretary and a legal Consulter, met in Turin on the 12 and 13 of November, 1955, in the presence of the Rector Major. There, after receiving some slight modifications suggested by the Federations, the Basic Statute received its definitive formulation.


The Confederation the fruit of the Preventive System, inspired by the maternal goodness of Mary Help of Christians to Don Bosco, counting in its ranks men of all races and tongues, nations and customs, men from all walks of life and every level of civilization forges bonds of respect and affection between the educators and their one-time pupils which last as long as life itself. It cements among the Past Pupils a feeling of brotherhood and harmony of spirit, free from the urge of ambition, the desire to command, with no other stimulus than rivalry in doing good. In Italy, for example, there are over 800,000 Past-Pupils, 170,000 of whom are enrolled. In the world they number millions.

At present the Movement is organized as follows: a World Confederation which coordinates the activity of the National Federations; subordinate to these are the Regional Federations which in turn, control the local Centers. The governing bodies correspond to this organization. Every local Center is directed by a Committee.

The Presidents of the Centers constitute the Regional Council, which has as executive organ the Regional Committee. The assembly of the Regional Presidents form the National Council which has as executive organ the National Committee. The National Presidents in their turn, constitute the Council of the World Confederation, directed by the Confederation Committee, always the representative of the Superiors of the Salesian Society. The Unions and Federations have their own standard.

On the other hand, the insignia and symbol of the Confederation is the Banner which is carried by the Confederation Committee on the more solemn occasions and manifestations (as, for example, the International Eucharistic Congress at Barcelona, the National Eucharistic Congresses of Turin and Lecce), at the Congresses of the Past-Pupils, e. g. at the Inter-American Congress held at Buenos Aires in the presence of the Rector Major: August 1956. AIMS.

The following are the aims which the World Confederation, through the Federations and local Centers, has set itself in its effort to realize the ideal of Don Bosco ‘Da mihi animas, caetera tolle 1) to reinforce and bring to perfection in the souls of the Past-Pupils the spirit of Don Bosco, and to encourage the practical application of his teachings in individual, family and social life; 2) to promote the spiritual unity of the Past-Pupils and the actual membership of the Organization in its National, Regional and Local centers; 3) to preserve and reanimate the sentiments of affectionate gratitude on the part of the Past-Pupils towards their educators; 4) to keep in touch with the Past-Pupils and to keep alive among them the happy relationship of good fellowship, even to the extent of eventual reciprocal spiritual and material help; 5) to rouse and actuate those forms of personal and collective activity, which help to satisfy the religious, moral and cultural needs of the Past-Pupils.

The Confederation of Past-Pupils is free from politics and all class struggles. To attain its ends the Union engages in religious, cultural and social activities of various kinds, the details of which we have, unfortunately, not space to develop here.

Don Bosco’s advice: “Remain united and help one another” acts as an inspiration to all.

Source: From Don Bosco in the World

Don Bosco Secular Institutes

Who They Are in the Church

The Don Bosco Volunteers (VDB) are a Secular Institute of Pontifical Title in the Church, with the constitutive elements of CONSECRATION, SECULARITY, SALESIANITY.

CONSECRATED – Constitution 3: The Volunteers offer themselves completely to God by their profession of the evangelical counsels, to live fully their baptismal covenant.

SECULAR – Constitution 4: The Volunteers are lay women who, through vocational choice, live in the world and, like leaven, contribute to its sanctification.

SALESIAN – Constitution 5: The Volunteers live their vocation by making their own the Salesian charisma which identifies them in the Church and in the world.

In the Salesian Family

The Don Bosco Volunteers, founded by Don Rinaldi, third successor of Don Bosco, constitute the branch of Consecrated Secular Life together with the components of Consecrated Religious Life (SDB, FMA, other institutes) and the Lay non consecrated life (Salesian Cooperators, ex-pupils and other associations) Constitution 7: The Institute, even in its autonomy and proper characteristics, is and recognizes itself as a living part of the Salesian Family.


Constitution 6: The Volunteers, urged by the loved Christ, wish to be salt of the earth and the light of the world. They participate in the evangelizing task of the Church which sends them. Their apostolic action is aimed above all toward those who were the principal beneficiaries of Don Bosco’s mission. As members of a secular Institute they live alone or with their families. The Institute does not have works of its own.

Origin Foundation Growth


Turin: at the girls’ oratory, Valdocco, a group of young women already part of the company of Mary’s Daughters, asked don Rinaldi who was their spiritual guide, to create a kind of Society of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the world (to be able to live a kind of consecration remaining in the world.)

October 26, 1919

The first and solemn function of the profession of the group of the first seven numbers of the society of St. Francis of Sales and Mary Help of Christians.

December 5, 1931

Don Rinaldi dies. There are 16 consecrated members.

March 19, 1959

With the Rector Major don Renato Ziggiotti, the associates call themselves Volunteers of Don Bosco; they are spread throughout different Countries, there were 248 at the time.

May, 1961

The Association becomes autonomous.

January 31, 1971

At Turin, the constitutions and the Secular Institute of Diocesan Right are approved. They number 464 all over the world.


First General Assembly of the Institute: they number 611.

August 5, 1978

Recognition as Secular Institute of Pontifical Right, with the approval of the Constitutions.


Second General Assembly. They number 740.


Third General Assembly. They number 897.

June 14, 1990

Definite approval of the new Constitutions June 24: Their promulgation.

July 15-25, 1995

Fourth General Assembly on the theme Secularity and Salesian mission. 71 Volunteers participate.

Diffusion and Organization of the Institute

There are 1,247 Don Bosco Volunteers, present in 36 countries: West Europe: 512, East Europe: 234, Africa: 9, North America: 9, South America: 386, Asia: 96, Oceania: 1.

Organization General Assembly: normally every six years. Superior. President General. She is assisted by a central council (eight Councilors and an Administrator). In the Regions: Regional Assembly- Regional President with a Council. Local groups (six to twenty-five Volunteers): Local President with a council. Where there are less than six, subgroups with a President are formed.

Incorporation into the Institute

Admission Single women of at least 21 years and not over 35 years; sufficient health to take part in the life of the institute; psychological and affective maturity appropriated to age and situation, availability for spiritual, professional and cultural renewal, oriented towards apostolic life as the Salesian consecrated laity; not professed in other Institutes of consecrated life, have sufficient time and freedom to assure moments of prayer and for formative and organizational commitments of the Institute, sufficient financial autonomy.


A year of pre-aspirantship; three years of the aspirantship; six years of temporary profession (three yearly, plus a triennium); perpetual profession.

Source: La Famiglia Spirituale di Don Bosco Don Bosco’s Story

Other Related Groups

The Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Founded in Bogota (Columbia) in 1905 by the Salesian, Fr. Luigi Variara, who was moved with pity towards those stricken with leprosy and towards their children. The Sisters apostolate, therefore, is to assist the lepers, to instruct the girls of the poorer families and prepare them for life, to teach children Christian doctrine, to promote Catholic Action and to take care of the churches. At present the Sisters number about 357 and work in various dioceses in Columbia. The diocesan process towards the beatification of the founder, Fr. Luigi Variara, is in course of preparation.

The Sisters of the Congregation ‘Caritas’

Founded at Miyazaki (Japan) through the initiative of the Salesian, Vincenzo Cimatti, who later entrusted their direction to Fr. Antonio Cavoli, also a Salesian. They care for abandoned children and old people, and undertake other missionary activities proper to the country. The Society now has 13 houses (11 in Japan and 2 in Korea) with 104 professed members and 44 novices.

The Missionary Catechist Sisters

Founded in 1940 by Bishop Stephen Ferrando, the Salesian bishop of Shillong (India). They are a Diocesan Society, with about fifty members, and are concerned especially with schools and children.

The ‘Ausiliatrici’ Sisters

Founded in 1937 in Bang Nok Khuek (Thailand) through the initiative of Bishop G. Pasotti, a Salesian and the Prefect Apostolic of Ratburi. These Sisters are co-workers with the missionaries in spiritual and material necessities (kitchen, laundry, care of the church, the education of girls by teaching in the schools and participation in parochial activities.) At present the ‘Ausiliatrici’ are at work in 8 Missionary Centers and have 40 professed members, 8 novices and 20 aspirants.

The Sisters of the Manifestation

Founded in 1928 at Shiu-Chow (China) by Bishop Louis Versiglia, the Salesian bishop who drew up their Rule. The object of the Sisters is to assist with catechism in the missions to take charge of schools and to attend to the cleanliness of the church. Mgr. Canazei, the Salesian who succeeded bishop Versiglia after the bishop had been murdered for the Faith, obtained approval of the Rules from the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. When the communist troubles broke out, 14 Sisters stayed in China and were heard of no more. The rest went to Hong Kong. Here, they have the Bishop Versiglia elementary school, with 1,600 children. They teach catechism in three parishes and have a house for aspirants and novices. The government has recently given them land for a grammar school.

The Pious Union of Mary Mazzarello (a secular institute)

Founded at Buenos Aires (Argentina) by Fr. Aloysius Pedemonte, Salesian, on August 15, 1939. The members can be active with the vow of celibacy, or participating (married). The object of the Pious Union is the perfection of the members and the giving of good example in Christian life in the midst of their families. In particular, they are active auxiliaries in the parishes, teach catechism in schools, in outlying districts, and have work rooms for poor churches and for needy families. They also look after children of working class families. The Pious Union was recognized and commended by Pius XII.

The Oblates of Christ (Societas Christi pro emigrantibus)

Founded by Cardinal Augustus Hlond, the Salesian Primate of Poland. Their first house was at Potulice (diocese of Poznan) in 1932. There are both priests and laymen. Their object is to give spiritual and material assistance to Polish emigrants, and to place them especially in parishes abroad where there are large groups of their fellow nationals. Today the Society numbers some 200 priests and about 60 laymen. They work in small communities of assistance in France (12 centers), Germany, Canada, Brazil and Australia.

The Salesian Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart

Founded by Bishop Joseph Cognata, the Salesian bishop of Bova (Italy), in the Holy Year 1933, to give spiritual assistance in the poorest and most needy places in his diocese. They soon spread to other equally needy dioceses. Their apostolate, distinctively missionary in character, is exercised in welfare centers for children, workshops, festive oratories, parochial catechism classes and other works of Catholic Action. The Congregation has now 35 Missions, distributed as follows: 15 in Calabria, 16 in Sicily, 4 in Sardinia, 9 in Lazio, 5 in Tuscany, 1 in Emilia and 3 in Lombardy. The Mother House was transferred to Rome in 1952.

The Sisters of Mary Immaculate

Founded in 1950 by the Salesian bishop of Krishnagar (India), Bishop Louis La Ravoire Morrow. Their apostolate is to care for the poor and needy of the diocese without distinction of race or caste. After they have spent some years of preparation in hospitals, colleges, and in courses of social studies, the Sisters go in twos or fours to make periodic visits especially to the most distant and poorest villages in the diocese, and stay there for some time. While there, they give religious instruction, teach prayers and hymns, personal and domestic hygiene, the care of infants, etc. They also visit and look after the sick. So far, their apostolate is limited to the one diocese.

It was Don Bosco’s own happy idea to have, alongside the Salesians, a select group of extern Associates who, though not bound by the common life or by vows, would employ themselves in the same spirit and the same field of apostolate in the world. The times were not, however, ripe for such a venture, which would then have seemed too bold. The idea was taken up again in providential circumstances by the Servant of God, Fr. Philip Rinaldi who, in 1917, formed an association of ladies in Turin who, whilst staying in the world, bound themselves to God by a vow of chastity. They also pledged themselves to cultivate their own sanctification in a climate of voluntary poverty, religious obedience, and generous apostolate in the service of souls, and especially among youth, in the spirit of Don Bosco.

The fifth Successor of Don Bosco, Fr. Renato Ziggiotti, gave renewed life to the Association and, faithful to the Salesian motto “With Don Bosco and with the times,” adapted it to modern needs. He also enrolled it in the providential movement of Secular Institutes, under the name of the Auxiliaries of Don Bosco. The Association has today spread to Italy, France, Belgium and Spain and other parts of the Salesian world. Today, known as the Don Bosco Volunteers in the United States, the VDB is a secular institute and has been approved and continues to grow.