Sanctity in the Salesian Family
Who are the Salesians?
To be Salesian is to belong to a family. St. John Bosco began his work with a religious community of Brothers and Priests, known as the Salesians of Don Bosco. The Salesian Sisters, officially known as the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, is a Catholic religious community of women founded by St. Maria Domenica Mazzarello and St. John Bosco.
Don Bosco also established a group called the Salesian Cooperators. The cooperators are lay men and women who live the spirituality and ministry of the Salesians. They bring the Church into their lives at the workplace, the home and society at large.
Don Bosco’s Past Pupils are men and women who as young people, attended a Salesian school, club or parish, and like the Cooperators, live the Salesian Spirit at the workplace, the home and society.
What do Salesians do?
All Salesians minister to young people through schools, parishes and youth centers, in a word, wherever the young can be found. It is our mission to be signs and bearers of God’s love for the young. Don Bosco wanted us Salesians, to use all our energy and creativity to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to youth through the Salesian Youth Ministry.
How did it start?
It all began with a young priest, John Bosco now popularly known and loved as St. John Bosco, but the youth of his time hailed him as Don Bosco. In Italy where he began his ministry, priests were referred to as “Don” in common parlance. Today we still lovingly refer to him as Don Bosco.
Starting with a handful of teenagers in 1841, Don Bosco soon had several hundred children coming to him on Sundays, for Mass, religious instruction and an afternoon of recreation. They met wherever he could find enough space for them, mostly in vacant lots. Don Bosco called this informal Sunday gathering the Oratory. Some of the children were homeless and all of them were poor.
“Do you want to help Don Bosco?” he asked some of the youngsters. From these young volunteers came the Salesians, a religious community of brothers and priests dedicated to the youth ministry. At first there were 18 “Salesians” ranging from 16 to 22 years of age. Today there are some 15,300 Salesians serving in over 132 countries.
Today the Salesians of Don Bosco number 15,300 Brothers and Priests while the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians number 13,000. They too serve in over 100 countries. They dedicate their lives to the care and education of young people by bringing the Gospel of Jesus to the world.
The Salesian Coat of Arms – St. Francis De Sales
The shining star, the large anchor, the heart on fire symbolize the theological virtues; the figure of St. Francis de Sales recalls the Patron of the Society; the small wood in the lower part reminds us of the Founder; the high mountains signify the heights of perfection towards which members strive; the interwoven palm and laurel that enfold the shield either side are emblematic of the prize reserved for a virtuous and sacrificial life. The motto Da mihi animas, caetera tolle, expresses every Salesian’s ideal.
Salesians in the World
The Salesians have spread to every continent on this planet and they have made their presence felt especially in championing the cause of the young.
Salesians in Higher Education
It has not only been basic education and skills training. Salesians have trained themselves to establish institutes of Higher Education in various countries and have earned several accolades for their competence and quality of education.
The Rector Major and His Council
After the 27th General Chapter that concluded in the middle of April and now under the helm of Fr. Angél Fernandes the Council is at the service of Youth the world over.
Salesians in India
The First group of Salesian Missionaries to Tanjore – 1906
Here is the first band of Salesians who stepped ashore here in India and it was from then that the Salesians spread up north. They landed in Bombay and then went down to Madras and finally settled in Tanjore where they established themselves and spread.
The impressive work in the next six years, which saw Fr. Mathias being appointed Provincial of India and then Bishop of Madras. From the little orphanage at Tanjore the school grew and local vocations began to sprout in the person of Cl. Sandanam, Br. Lourdes and others.
It was now time to look to the rest of India. The superiors in Rome looked to the north and found very fertile ground. Other missionaries had passed through Assam and moved on to Tibet. It was Providence that directed the Salesians to Assam and Shillong and this was the first band on the eve of their departure. Quite a few of them are laid to rest in Indian soil, a tribute to a life spent here…in the service of youth.
Youth Services in India
There are 10 Salesian Provinces in India, namely : Dimapur, Guwahati, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Tiruchy, Chennai, Bangaluru, Panjim, Hyderabad, Silchar
Salesians in Mumbai Province
The Salesians came to the city of Mumbai on 16th May 1928 and established themselves there with just one presence. They now have 34 presences in three states (Maharashtra, Gujarat and east Madhya Pradesh.
Fr. Aurelius Maschio
Fr. Aurelius Maschio came to Mumbai from the mission of Cherrapunji on 20th February 1937 and would establish the Salesians in the city and then in the region. He is rightly acknowledged as the patriarch of the Mumbai Province today.
In the sphere of education the Salesians come into their own. They arrived on the scene rather late compared to other illustrious religious congregations but they have not ceased to make their mark through their impressive educational institutions.
In this region of the country to which millions of youth are flocking, looking for a future, the Salesians are ready to offer this most vulnerable part of human society skills that will equip them to join the workforce to build the nation through their competence.
Though parishes are not the raison d’être of their work, this ministry allows the Salesians to meet youth in this pastoral setting offering them what they do best: their presence.
Youth at Risk
Several of the youth the Salesians encounter do not come to our structured institutions. Youngsters migrating to the cities, roofless and rootless find in the Salesian Shelters homes with a heart that makes them feel safe and secure.
The task before the Salesian is daunting and they are prepared for this through several years of ‘formation’ at our various centres at Lonavla, Nashik and Pune. The resilience and spirituality that they develop helps them to make a difference in the life of the youngsters they will encounter.
The Salesians are not alone in what they do. The 27 other members with the same spirit work hand in hand to bring to youngsters the assurance that ‘Don Bosco Cares’ through each of the members of the Salesian Family.
The first at hand are the Salesian Sisters – the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who reach out to girls to do for them what the Salesians do for boys. Their presences in the four states on the west coast of India give girls the assurance they are elder sisters to them.
Don Bosco Development Society
It is not easy to work for children without caring for the families they come from. Several families in rural areas know that they can depend on the Salesians to assist them to become aware of their rights while learning to develop their skills in farming, eco-conservation.