Don Bosco Resources

Confidential Memo for Rectors (1863-1886)




Precious document, dictated by immediate urgencies (to support the young Don Michele Rua in the task of director of the first community of confreres, of young people, of collaborators outside Turin) but under the cover of practical advice, concrete examples, quick notes and intuitions, bears the mark of Don Bosco's deep certainties and lively concerns. What in 1863 constitutes a simple letter, of a strictly private nature, from 1871, with touch-ups and additions dictated by subsequent experiences and reflections, will be presented as "Confidential reminders to the Directors of the particular houses of Salesian society" or even "Testament that I address to Directors of special houses ". The definitive text of 1886 is published.

Critical text with introduction, variants apparatus and historical-illustrative notes in Pietro Braido (ed.), Don Bosco educator writings and testimonies. Third edition with the collaboration of Antonio da Silva Ferreira, Francesco Motto and José Manuel Prellezo. Salesian Historical Institute, Sources, First Series, n. 9. Rome, LAS 1997, pp. 179-186.


To his beloved son, Fr Rua Michele the Sac. Bosco Thurs health in the Lord. / Since divine providence has arranged for us to be able to open a house destined to promote the good of youth in Mirabello, I thought that it could return to the glory of God and for the benefit of souls, entrusting you with the direction. But since I cannot always find myself at your side to suggest to you those things that you have heard or heard from us many times and that I would often repeat to you; so I hope you will be grateful by writing here some notices that will normally be useful for you. I speak to you with the voice of a tender father who opens his heart to one of his dearest children. I want to write them by my hand so that you always have a token of the great affection that I carry with you, and be of permanent memory of the lively desire that I have that you earn many souls for the Lord.

With yourself

1. Nothing upsets you.
2. Avoid food austerities. Your mortifications are in diligence to your duties and to bear the harassment of others. On each night you will have seven hours of rest. An hour of latitude is established more or less for you and for others, when there will be some reasonable cause. This is useful for your health and that of your employees.
3. Celebrate the Holy Mass and recite the Breviary pie, attentive ac devote. This is for you and your employees.
4. Never omit meditation every morning and a visit to the Blessed Sacrament during the day. Sacrament. The balance as set forth in the Company Rules.
5. Study to make yourself loved rather than fear you. Charity and patience constantly accompany you in commanding, in correcting, and makes everyone from your deeds and words know that you seek the good of souls. It tolerates anything when it is a question of preventing sin. Your concerns should be directed to the spiritual, health and scientific good of the young men of Divine Providence entrusted to you.
6. In matters of greater importance, always make a brief elevation of heart from God before deliberating. When some relationship is made to you, listen to everything, but try to brighten up the | facts and to listen to both sides before judging. Often certain things seem to be beams at first announcement and they are nothing more than straws.

With the Masters

1. Procure that the Masters lack nothing as much as they need for food and clothing. Take their labors into account, and being sick or just plain uncomfortable, send an alternate to their class soon.
2. Speak often with them separately or simultaneously; observe if they do not have too many jobs; if they lack clothes, books; if they have any physical or moral pain; or if in their class they have pupils in need of correction or special consideration in the discipline, in the way and in the degree of teaching. Known any need, do as much as you can to do it.
3. In specific Conferences it recommends that all students of the class should be questioned without distinction; read the work of each one in turn. They flee from particular friendships and partialities, nor do they ever introduce students or others into their room.
4. Having to give duties or notices to the students, use a room or room established for this purpose.
5. When there are Solemnities, Novenas or Feasts in honor of Mary Most Holy, of some Patron Saint of the town, of the College, or some Mystery of Our Holy Religion, they announce it with short words, but they never omit.
6. Let us watch that the Masters never send students away from school and if they were absolutely compelled, they should be accompanied to the Superior. Neither do they ever beat the negligent or delinquent for any reason. If serious things happen, the Director of Studies or the Superior of the House should be advised immediately.
7. Masters outside school do not exercise any authority over their pupils, and are limited to advice, warnings or at most corrections which allow and suggest well-understood charity.

With Assistants and Dormitory Leaders

1. What has been said of the Masters can be largely applied to the Assistants and Dormitory Heads.
2. Proxy to distribute the occupations so that both they and the Masters have time and comfort to attend to their studies.
3. Please keep with them to hear their opinion about the conduct of the young people entrusted to them. The most important part of their duties is to be punctual to the place where young people gather for rest, school, work, recreation and the like.
4. Realizing that some of them contract particular friendships with some pupil, or that the office entrusted to them, or his morality, is in danger, with all prudence you will change his job; if the danger continues, you will immediately advise your superior.
5. Sometimes gather the Masters, Assistants, Dormitory Heads and to everyone you say that they try to prevent bad speeches, remove any book, writing, images, paintings (hic scientia est) and anything that endangers the queen of virtues, purity. Give good advice, use charity with everyone.
6. It is the object of common solicitude to discover the students who are dangerous; discover them inculcates that they are revealed to you.

With Coadjutors and service people

1. Make sure that every morning they can listen to the Holy Mass and approach the Saints Sacraments according to the rules of the Society. Service personnel are encouraged to confess every fortnight or once a month.
2. Use great charity in commanding, making known with words and deeds that you desire the good of their souls: especially watch that they do not become familiar with the young or with external persons.
3. Never allow women to enter dormitories or the kitchen, or deal with anyone in the house except for things of charity or absolute necessity. This article is of the utmost importance.
4. Being born of dissensions or disputes between service people, assistants, young people or others, listen to each one with kindness, but by ordinary means you will tell your opinion separately so that one does not hear what is said of the other.
5. To persons of service, a leader of known probity is to be established by chief, who watches over their works and their morality, so that no theft or bad speeches occur. But constant care is taken to prevent anyone from taking on commissions, business concerning relatives, or other outsiders, whoever they are.

With young students

1. You will never accept students expelled from other Colleges, or of whom you are aware of bad habits. If in spite of due caution, it will happen to accept any of this kind, immediately fix him a sure companion that assists him and never loses sight of him. If he lacks lofty things, just notice him once, and if he falls, he is immediately sent to his home.
2. Proxy to let you know by the students and to get to know them passing with them as much time as possible, trying to tell their ears some affectionate words, which you well know, from hand to hand you will see the need. This is the great secret that will make you master of their heart.
3. You will ask: What are these words? Those same ones that once were mostly told to you. P.E .: How are you? Well. And of soul? So and so. You should help me in a big business; You will help me? Yes, but in what? To make you good. Or: To save your soul; or: To make you the best of our young people. With the most dissipated: When do you want to start? What? To be my consolation; to keep the conduct of St. Louis. To those who are a little reluctant to the holy sacraments: When do you want us to break the horns of the devil? With a good confession. When he wants [?]. As soon as possible. Other times: When will we do a good laundry? Or: Do you feel like helping me break the devil's horns? Do you want us to be friends for soul affairs? Haec aut similia.
4. In our Houses the Director is the Ordinary Confessor, so let him see that he willingly listens to each in Confession, but gives them ample freedom of confession from others if they wish. Make it well known that in voting on moral conduct you do not take part in it and plan to remove even the shadow of suspicion that you have to serve yourself, or even remember what was said in Confession. Nor does the slightest sign of partiality appear to those who confess from one to the preference of another.
5. The little clergy, the Company of S. Luigi, of the SS. Sacramento, of the Immaculate Conception are recommended and promoted. Show benevolence and satisfaction to those who are ascribed to it; but you will be only a promoter and not a Director; considers these | things like the work of young people whose direction is entrusted to the Catechist.
6. When you are able to discover some serious deficiency, have the guilty or suspected person called in your room and in the way the most charitable power to make him declare the fault and the wrong in having committed it; and then correct it and invite him to fix things of his own conscience. By this means and by continuing to the student a benevolent assistance, marvelous effects and amendments were obtained which seemed impossible.

Cogli Esterni

1. We willingly lend our work to religious service, to preaching, to celebrate Masses at the convenience of the public and to hear confessions whenever the charity and duties of one's state allow it, especially in favor of the parish in whose limits one finds our house. But never assume jobs or anything else that matters absence from the factory or can prevent the offices assigned to each.
2. Courtesy external priests are sometimes invited for preaching, or else on the occasion of Solemnity, musical entertainment and the like. The same invitation is made to the Authorities and to all the benevolent or meritorious persons for favors used or who are able to use them.
3. Charity and courtesy are the characteristic features of a Director towards both internal and external parties.
4. In the event of questions concerning material things, please comply in all you can, even with some damage, as long as you keep away from any grip of quarrels, or anything else that could make you lose your charity.
5. In the case of spiritual things, the questions always resolve as they can return to greater glory of God. Commitments, stakes, spirit of revenge, self-love, reasons, pretensions and even honor, everything must be sacrificed to avoid sin.
6. In matters of grave importance it is good to ask for time to pray and ask for advice from some pious and prudent person.

With those of the Company

1. The exact observance of the Rules and especially of obedience are the basis of everything. But if you want others to obey you, be obedient to your superiors. No one is fit to command, if he is not able to obey.
2. Proxy to share things in such a way that no one is too burdened with duties, but let each one faithfully fulfill those entrusted to him.
3. Neither of the Congregation make contracts, receive money, make loans or loans to relatives, friends or others. Neither does anyone keep money or the administration of temporal things without being directly authorized by the Superior. Compliance with this article will keep the most fatal plague away from religious congregations.
4. Denounce the modifications of the Rules as poison. The exact observance of them is better than any variation. The best is the enemy of good.
5. Study, time, experience have made me known and touched with my own hands that throat, interest and vainglory were the ruin of flourishing Congregations and respectable Religious Orders. The years will also let you know the truths that maybe now will seem incredible to you.
6. Maximum solicitude in promoting common life with words and facts.

In Command

1. Never command things that you consider superior to the forces of subordinates, or expect not to be obeyed. Make sure to avoid the repugnant commands; on the contrary, take the greatest care to uphold the inclinations of each one, preferably entrusting those offices which are known to be most pleasing to some.
2. Never command things that are harmful to health or that prevent the necessary rest or come into conflict with other duties or orders from another superior.
3. Always use ways and words of charity and meekness when commanding. The threats, the anger, let alone the violence, are always far from your words and your actions.
4. In case of having to command difficult or repulsive things | say to the subordinate P.E .: Could you do this or that thing? Or: I have something important, that I don't want to put on you, because it's difficult, but I don't have anyone who can do it like you. You would have time, health; won't you be hindered by other jobs, etc. Experience has shown that similar methods, used on time, are very effective.
5. Economics is done in everything, but absolutely so that the sick are not lacking. Let everyone else notice that we have taken a vow of poverty, so we must not even seek desirability in anything. We must love poverty and the companions of poverty. So avoid any expense that is not absolutely necessary in clothes, books, furniture, travel, etc.

This is like a Testament that I address to the Directors of the Special Houses. If these notices are put into practice, I die in peace because I am sure that our Society will be ever more flourishing in the face of men and blessed by the Lord, and will achieve its purpose which is the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. in G. C.
Sac. Gio. Bosco
Turin, 1886, feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary,
45th anniversary of the foundation of the Oratory