Rector Major from 1922 to 1931.
After giving a firm foundation to the Salesian Society of Saint John Bosco in Spain, and having been Vicar of the first two successors to the Saint for 21 years, he himself was elected Superior General. He displayed an admirable zeal and fatherliness in this high office, emphasising that the true character of the Salesian Work lies not so much in external successes as in a profound, serene and calm intimate life. He translated his dynamic concept of spirituality and work into a socially effective force by working with Pius XI so that a plenary indulgence was attached to the sanctification of work.
An animator of lay movements, he encouraged and directed a keen group of young girls who, inspired by Don Bosco, proposed as early as 1910 to combine the two ideals of consecrated life and apostolate in the world for the sake of youth; it was the beginning of the Secular Institute of the "Volunteers of Don Bosco" (VDB).
But even prior to this, Fr Rinaldi showed special zeal for the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who drew from no less benefit than the Salesian Congregation from his wise advice. The Salesian Congregation grew by 4,788 members in 404 houses, to 8,836 in 644 houses under his direction, in an atmosphere where "the father's affection was breathed more than the authority of the Superior". This is commonly recognised as the clearest sign of Fr Rinaldi's time as Rector Major and of his own holiness.
"It is true," Fr P. Ricaldone testified "that he often had poor health; but he succeeded in achieving extraordinary good. He worked enthusiastically on the formation of personnel through meetings, visits, writings that made him appreciated and loved by everyone." He was a tireless worker. In many ways and throughout his life, without sparing an effort effort, he acted to increase among workers of all categories forms of association and credit unions that always ended up in growth of Christian trade unions and social security. To all the Salesians he recommended in particular that they assist migrants without distinction of nationality, emphasizing a universal approach in charity. His extraordinary virtues and lasting fame after deathquickly led to the promotion of his Cause of Beatification and Canonisation.