St John Bosco in his great vision has established not just one or two religious congregations but one large Salesian Family, which includes everyone from all walks of life. Today the Salesian Family has 30 different groups in the world, including both lay and consecrated. A complete list of the Salesian Family can be found at the international website of the Salesian of Don Bosco. Some of the main groups are:
Salesian of Don Bosco
The Salesian of Don Bosco (abbreviated SDB) was founded by St John Bosco in Turin on 18 December 1859. It is a group of Catholic Priests and Brothers that follow the spirit of St John Bosco, dedicated to the service of the young, especially the disadvantaged and marginalised. The SDBs work in schools, youth centres, hostels, camps, parishes and other contexts to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the lives of the young. Today the SDBs in the whole world number 15762 and are present in 130 countries in all 5 continents.
The primary educative method of the Salesians is Don Bosco’s Preventive System of “reason, religion and loving-kindness”. For more information visit the International website of the Salesian of Don Bosco.
Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters)
The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians is commonly known as the Salesian Sisters. The abbreviated name of the Institute is 'FMA', which stands for the Latin phrase 'FILIAE MARIAE AUXILIATRICE', meaning 'Daughters of Mary Help of Christians'. The group was started first by St Maria Domenica Mazzarello with an apostolate of doing for girls something similar to what Don Bosco was already doing for boys during that time. Seeing the similar needs of girls, and at the request of many people in Turin (Italy) at that time, Don Bosco decided to take Maria's group and establish it into an Institute that would reach out to poor and abandoned girls. Established on 5 August 1872, this group is named 'Daughters of Mary Help of Christians' as a living monument of Don Bosco's gratitude to Mother Mary.
Today the FMAs number 14655 and are present in 94 countries in all 5 continents. Like the SDBs, the primary educative method of the Salesian Sisters is also the Preventive System. For more information, visit the International website of the Salesian Sisters.
Salsian Cooperators is the first group of lay ministers established by St John Bosco to help him with his apostolate. The Association of Salesian Cooperators was set up in 1876 with the help of Pope Piux IX.
A Salesian Cooperator is a lay person who wants to take seriously the living and working for the apostolic project of St. John Bosco. It is a commitment that is born from a deep conviction to follow Christ, inspired by a generous "Salesian Heart", that is able to respond to God's call out of her or his experience of the Salesian charism, educative method and style of relationship.
Cooperators are people who, while maintaining the lay condition, are certain that God is calling them to go beyond helping the Salesian Sisters, Fathers and Brothers, towards becoming "Salesian" in their own right. In short, "true Salesians in the world" (family, workplace, society, the church), the mission of loving and caring for young people, especially the poor and abandoned. It is a response to God's love, brought by the Salesian experience, that is matured from the baptismal call, following a very particular lifestyle - the Salesian style. In this way, the figure of the Cooperator constitutes a model for a lay person to live fully the Salesian Spirit and mission, without the religious vows.
Our Salesian commitment is simply to love the same way we were loved - to be a Salesian loving presence in our family unit, in the families of our Christian communities especially around young people, in being instruments of God's love to them, and bringing God into our places of work and into society. For more information, visit the website http://cooperatori.sdb.org/cooperatori/.
Past Pupils of FMAs
Also founded by Blessed Philip Rinaldi in March 1908 for past pupils of Salesian Sisters. This group today numbers approximately 130,000 members. For more information see www.exallievefma.org.
Association of Mary Help of Christians
The Association of Mary Help of Christians was founded by Don Bosco "to promote veneration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary Help of Christians". It was canonically erected in the Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians in Turin on 18 April 1869, and raised by Blessed Pius IX on 5 April 1870 to the rank of Archconfraternity. For more information see www.admadonbosco.org/