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What is the meaning of 'SDB'?

    'SDB' is the acronym for 'Salesians of Don Bosco'.

What does it mean to be a 'Salesian of Don Bosco'?

    To be a 'Salesian of Don Bosco' means to belong to a Catholic organization of men who dedicate their entire lives to God through a generous service to young people, especially those who are poorer and disadvantaged. This way of life entails professing the three vows, living in communities, educating and evangelising young people after the example of Don Bosco.

Why the name 'Salesians of Don Bosco'?

    St. John Bosco, an Italian saint of the nineteenth century was called 'Don'Bosco by his boys because 'Don' in Italian means 'Father'. Today he continues to be fondly remembered by the same name. He founded an organization that would take care of poor youth. He called his followers 'Salesians', a name he took from St. Francis de Sales, a popular saint of his native place in northern Italy. He chose St. Francis de Sales as the patron of his society and encouraged his followers to imitate the saint's gentle humanism.

Are there other groups that are called 'Salesians' besides the 'Salesians of Don Bosco'?

    Yes there are other groups that use the name 'Salesian'. St. Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Catholic Church, gave birth to a unique school of spirituality which is generally referred to as 'Salesian Spirituality'. Other groups that live this spirituality as their own also refer to themselves as Salesians. The title 'Salesians of Don Bosco' aims to clarify that its members live the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales according to the style and charism of Don Bosco.

What is the legal status of the Salesians of Don Bosco?

    The 'Salesians of Don Bosco' is a non-profit organization. It is recognized by the Italian Government, as a juridical person for civil purposes under the title 'Direzione Generale Opere Don Bosco', and is situated in Rome, Via della Pisana, 1111.

Where are the SDBs in the world and how many are they?

    The Salesians of Don Bosco are scattered in 131 countries across the globe. They number approximately 15,500. They serve young people in more than 2000 institutions.

What is the aim of the Salesians of Don Bosco?

    Very briefly, the aim of the SDBs can be stated as follows: 'to be signs and bearers of the love of God for young people, especially those who are poor.'

In what different ways do the Salesians of Don Bosco serve youth?

    Here is a list of the variety of projects on behalf of young people that are undertaken by the Salesians of Don Bosco around the globe: Academic Schools, Trade and Agricultural Schools, Colleges, Universities, Oratories and Youth Clubs, Parishes, Missions, Youth Movements, Publishing Houses, Media Broadcasting Centres, Multimedia Productions, Cine-forums, Theatre and Music Clubs, Sport Clubs, Art and Graphic Schools, Printing presses, Education to Peace and Democracy Programmes, Catechetical centres, Rural Development projects, Street Children Asylums, Rehabilitation Homes, Counselling Centres, Drug Detoxification Centres, Centres for Immigrant Youth, Centres for Refugees, Vocational Centres, Centres for Volunteering, Funding Agencies, Centres of Youth Research and Development.

Do the Salesians of Don Bosco marry?

    No, the Salesians of Don Bosco do not marry. They live a consecrated life.

What is 'Consecrated' Life?

    In the Catholic Church, one may decide to dedicate one's life to God out of one's own free will. This dedication is for the whole of one's life through the public profession of the three vows, Obedience, Poverty and Chastity.

What do the three vows mean?

    The three vows are a sign that one wishes to place oneself totally at God's disposal and at the service of His mission to make peace, truth, justice and love a reality in this world. By taking the vows, the person renounces some legitimate rights that every human being has the right to choose and decide for oneself, the right to own possessions, the right to marry and beget children.

Does a member of the SDB organization take the vows only for a fixed period of time?

    No, his is a life long dedication. The Catholic Church however requires that a candidate who seeks to be a member take the vows for a fixed period of time in view of offering his whole life in perpetuity. This period is called 'temporary profession'. It culminates in the 'perpetual profession'about 7 years later.

In today's world, is a 'perpetually consecrated life' possible?

    To live as a consecrated person, that is, to profess the three vows and live this profession day after day, is certainly not an easy task. But it is possible with God's grace, which is sought through constant and persevering prayer, the reception of the Sacraments and the observance of the SDB Constitutions. Lived in this way, in community together with other professed members, it is a life that is more than just 'possible'. It is a life that is lived in joyful commitment to the establishment of God's kingdom - a challenging yet joyful adventure indeed.

Are all SDBs priests?

    No, not all the Salesians of Don Bosco are priests. The vocation to be a Salesian of Don Bosco is lived in two distinct ways: as a Salesian Brother (also called the 'Lay Salesian', or 'Salesian Coadjutor') and as a Salesian Priest. Both these ways of being an SDB complement each other.

What's special about a Salesian Brother?

    The Salesian Brother,like the Salesian Priest, takes the three vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, lives in community with his fellow Salesians, and engages in the same mission to the young, modelling his life on Christ the Good Shepherd and making the example and educational system of Don Bosco his own. The difference is that he is involved, preferably, in apostolic activities of a secular nature. Here are examples of the various roles in which Salesian Brothers live out their vocation: Educators, Doctors, Professors, Agriculturalists, Development Officers, Administrators, Chartered Accountants, Catechists, Technical Instructors, Artists, Information Technologists, Media Technicians, Sports Instructors, Scout Leaders, Publishers, Librarians, Architects, Musicians. Today there are as many as 2000 Salesian Brothers throughout the world.

What's special about a Salesian Priest?

    The Salesian Priest, like the Salesian Brother,takes the three vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, lives in community with his fellow Salesians, and engages in the same mission to the young modelling his life on Christ the Good Shepherd and making the example and educational system of Don Bosco his own. The difference is that he is involved in priestly ministry, especially by preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments.

How does one become a 'Salesian of Don Bosco'?

    After having a discernment of one's vocation for some time, one has to take the following steps to becoming a Salesian of Don Bosco:
    • the prenovitiate, a time for a deeper study of one's initial choice of vocation and preparation for the novitiate;
    • the novitiate, the beginning of the experience of religious life;
    • the postnovitiate, which helps growth in an integration of faith, culture and life;
    • practical training, which aims at forging a personal synthesis out of an intense lived experience of Salesian activity, preferably among young people;
    • specific formation, which completes initial formation and in the case of clerics, continues until priestly ordination;
    • the period of preparation for the perpetual profession, which verifies the spiritual maturity required and leads to a definitive commitment.

How long does the process of becoming an SDB take?

    Starting from the prenovitiate, the time taken to becoming a perpetually professed member of the Salesian Congregation takes about 7 years. A Salesian Priest is usually ordained 4 years after he has made his perpetual profession.

What are significant signs of a vocation to be an SDB?

    Here are some significant signs of a vocation to be an SDB:
    • an earnest desire to follow Jesus more closely
    • a readiness for perpetual commitment by giving one's whole life to God
    • a genuine love for young people and a desire to serve those who are poorer
    • a spirit of generosity and self-sacrifice, and a willingness to bear hardships
    • an ability to live in community, sharing everything with one's brothers
    • an attitude of optimism,creativity and adventure

What are the minimum requirements to become a Salesian of Don Bosco?

    The minimum requirements for a person to become an SDB are as follows:
    • He must be 18 years of age.
    • He must be a Catholic.
    • He must have completed his secondary school education.
    • He must enjoy good health and be of good character.
    There will be further requirements according to the policy of each Salesian province.

Can women become 'Salesians of Don Bosco'?

    They can form part of a sister organization that goes by the name of the 'Daughters of Mary Help of Christians' (Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice), or in short, FMA.

Who are the FMA?

    Don Bosco and St. Mary Mazarello founded the 'Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice' (Daughters of Mary Help of Christians), or FMA, in 1872. They are a juridical entity, they share the same spirit, charism and mission of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Their specific mission is the care of girls and young women, especially those who are poorer.
    More information on the FMA is available at

What about those who are married? Can they too share in the spirit and mission of the Salesians?

    Yes, they can. Besides the SDBs and the FMAs, Don Bosco created an association called the Salesian Co-operators. These are laypersons, single or married, who publicly promise to live the Salesian charism and spirituality in their everyday lives. They carry out the vocation to be good and dedicated Catholics, as they follow the Salesian vocation. More information on the Salesian Co-operators may be found at:

If I am a past pupil of an SDB or an FMA school, can I take part in the mission of Don Bosco?

    Don Bosco was eager to have his own pupils collaborate in his mission to poor youth after they left his educational institutions and entered the world of work. Thanks to the initiative of his former pupil, Carlo Gastini, he was able to realize his dream. Eventually the World Confederation of Past Pupils of Don Bosco was born. The Confederation has a male and female branch. Both are recognized as world civil associations. Membership is open to all the pupils of Salesian schools run by the SDBs and the FMAs. For more information contact: if you are an SDB past-pupil or if you are an FMA past pupil.

Can I be a consecrated Salesian in the midst of the world without being a member of a Salesian community?

    Yes. One can take the three vows of obedience, poverty and chastity and still live as individuals in the midst of the world. Women who wish to live this kind of life are called Don Bosco Volunteers (DBV). More information about them is available at:
    Men who wish to live this kind of life are called Volunteers with Don Bosco (CDB). For more information visit their site:

If I do not belong to the Catholic Church, can I still share in the mission of Don Bosco?

    There are thousands of people the world over who do not profess the Catholic faith, but closely collaborate in Don Bosco's mission. Some are Past Pupils who may or may not be registered as members of the Confederation. Many others are collaborators by virtue of their employment in Salesian institutions, and give of their best even as they are paid for their services. Still others generously give of their time and talents to create a healthier environment for young people in the countries in which they live. Collaboration in Don Bosco's mission is an open invitation to all those who believe in the educational development of young people. If you wish to get involved, contact the nearest Salesian institution for details.

What other groups form part of the worldwide 'Salesian Family'?

    Altogether there are 21 groups that are officially part of the worldwide Salesian Family - this number includes the SDBs, the FMAs, the Salesian Co-operators and the two branches of the Confederation of Past Pupils. Don Bosco's charism continues to inspire many people of good will. There are at present 27 other groups that are seeking membership within the Salesian Family. Take a look at the complete list of Salesian Family Members.

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