The Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), also known as the Society of St. Francis de Sales, is an international organization of men dedicated full time to the service of young people, especially those who are poorer and disadvantaged. Youth resource Development through education and evangelization is the focus of all their concern — because they believe that their total dedication to the young is their best gift to humanity.
Founded by St. John Bosco, an Italian saint-educator of the nineteenth century, the SDBs are in 131 different nations. The Salesians live in communities that are actively engaged in the world of youth. They are members of the Church and work in harmony with its teachigns. Prayer and obedience to the Spirit of God are the foundation of their serice. They strive to make Don Bosco’s dream a reality and to inculcate his unique style and charism. They live out their consecration to God through the three vows: poverty, chastity and obedience. Their pledge to young people is to deepen their credibility as ‘signs and bearers of God’s love’ to each of them. Their preferential option is to work among the poor and abandoned youth of society. Becoming ‘signs and bearers of God’s love is their path to holiness — ajourney each of them has chosen to make with the young! Don Bosco, drawing his inspiration from the zeal and goodness of St. Francis de Sales, gave them the name “Salesians.” They are recognized in the Catholic Church, since 1st March 1869, as a clerical religious institute of pontifical right, dedicated to apostolic works.
Education and evangelization are at the centre of the Salesian mission. The pastoral-educative service that they want to carry out is directed to the integral development of the person. The first and principal beneficiaries of their mission are the young, especially the poorest of them, young workers and those preparing themselves for work, and apostolic vocations; in view of these they work amongst common folk with special attention to lay evangelizers, family, social communication, and those not yet evangelized. The activities and works by means of which the Salesians carry out their mission, depend on the needs and situations of the people whom they serve. They carry out activities and works in which it is possible to promote the human and Christian education of the young.
VARIOUS WORKS OF THE SALESIANS
- The ORATORY and YOUTH CENTER – these are environments of broad experience, open to a wide range of young people, above all those most alienated. This is achieved through a diversity of educational and evangelizing activities characterized by their focus on the young and strong personal relationships between educator and youngster, capable of becoming a missionary presence in the world of the young and of civil society.
- The SCHOOL and PROFESSIONAL FORMATION – these are centers for formal education, inspired by Gospel values according to the spirit and pedagogical style of the Salesians, in order to promote popular education attentive to the most needy, to their professional formation and to accompanying their gradual insertion into the world of work.
- BOARDING and HOSTEL arrangements – a service for accepting young people without family or who are temporarily estranged from family. Here they find personal relationships, opportunity for commitment and responsibility for young people in daily life, and the life of the group with its various formative educative and Christian opportunities.
- A presence to the TERTIARY SECTOR – Through institutes of higher education inspired by Christian values and with a Catholic and Salesian style; hostel and university residences, others services of pastoral animation at this level.
- the PARISH – characterized by a special attention to young people, above all to the poorest of them, the popular environment where it is to be found, by the presence of a Salesian religious community at its animating heart, and by activity of evangelization and education to faith strictly integrated with the human development of the person and the group.
- SOCIAL SERVICES and WORKS FOR YOUTH-AT-RISK – a family atmosphere of acceptance and education, animated by a community with ‘preventive’ criteria according to the educative style of Don Bosco. This is inspired by the Gospel and has the aim to evangelize, open to the transformation of realities which are socially exclusive and to the building of a culture of solidarity, in collaboration with other social institutions.
- SOCIAL COMMUNICATION – through education to an understanding and proper use and utilization of the media, the development of the communicative potential of persons through the new languages of music, theater, art, etc. Formation to a critical, aesthetic and moral sense, promotion of information and editorial centers in press, radio, television, internet, etc. finally, the service of the Salesian educational and pastoral project.
- Other NEW FORMS of SALESIAN PRESENCE to the young – (a) The SALESIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT: communion and connection between all youth groups and associations which acknowledge Salesian spirituality and pedagogy, and which take up an educative and evangelizing task and commit themselves to share and coordinate amongst themselves. (b) the SALESIAN VOLUNTARIATE: a voluntary activity committed to the human and Salesian development of the young, above all the poorest of them, and active amongst the common folk, according to the style of Don Bosco’s Preventive System and the values of the Salesian Youth Spirituality. They carry out their activity in view of the transformation of society and the removal of causes of injustice, and they favor a community experience and the vocational development of the volunteer. (c) Services for VOCATIONAL ORIENTATION: meetings and centers for vocation orientation, communities where this can occur, etc. (d) SPECIALIZED SERVICES for CHRISTIAN FORMATION – special education centers, houses of retreat and spirituality, centers for pastoral and catechetical formation.