Who are the Salesians

We, the Salesians of Don Bosco [officially known as The Society of St. Francis de Sales], are an international organisation of Catholic priests and brothers dedicated to the service of the young, especially the disadvantaged and marginalised.

We work in collaboration with our partners in schools, youth centres, hostels, camps, parishes and other contexts to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the lives of the young. We accompany the young on the journey of life so as to enable them to grow and mature as “good Christians and honest citizens”.

We were founded in the mid-1800s by St John Bosco, an Italian priest and educator, and today there are about 16,000 of us throughout the world. We are present in all five continents, in 130 countries.

We belong to the Salesian Family which is a worldwide movement of people committed to the service of the young. Today, it consists of over 400,000 people who are part of 30 different organisations aligned to Don Bosco. Currently, there are over 20 more groups seeking membership of the family. The first four: The Salesians of Don Bosco, The Salesian Co-operators, The Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians [Salesian Sisters] and The Salesian Past Pupils were all founded in Don Bosco’s lifetime.

As St. John Bosco was a priest, he was called ‘Don.’ It is the Italian equivalent of ‘Father’. The organisation he founded were called ‘Salesians’ because the patron saint of the organisation was St. Francis de Sales, the bishop of Geneva in the 16th and 17th centuries who was famous for his kindness and humanity.

We practice Don Bosco’s ‘Preventive System’ of “reason, religion and loving-kindness” and strive to create environments characterised by

  • a sense of welcome (A HOME)
  • a spirit of faith (A PARISH)
  • dynamic learning (A SCHOOL)
  • engaged social interaction (A PLAYGROUND)

It is called ‘preventive’ because Don Bosco believed that such an approach would always bring out the best in people and so ‘prevent’ them from developing in a dysfunctional way.

The first Salesians arrived in Australia in 1922 to work with Aboriginal Australians in the Kimberleys. Eventually, they moved to Victoria where they established several schools and other works in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales over the years. Initially, the Salesians working in Australia were connected to the Salesians in the United States, but they became an independent entity called a ‘province’ in 1958: the Province of Mary Help of Christians. This province now encompasses Australia, Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand and there are 107 priests and brothers working in 15 different centres.


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