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What does the acronym 'SDB' mean?

'SDB' means 'Salesians of Don Bosco'.

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

Being a 'Salesian of Don Bosco' means entering a Catholic Congregation of people who dedicate their whole life to God through generous service to the young, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged. We enter this form of life with the profession of religious vows, living in community, educating and evangelising the young according to the example of Don Bosco.

Why the name 'Salesians of Don Bosco'?

Saint John Bosco is an Italian Saint from the nineteenth century – his boys called him DON BOSCO and 'DON' in Italian means 'Priest'. And he continues to be called this in our time as well. He founded a Congregation whose purpose is to look after young people especially the poorest. He called those who wanted to follow him, Salesians, a name that derives from St Francis de Sales, a very popular Saint in Northern Italy where Don Bosco was born. He chose St Francis de Sales as the patron of his Society and wanted his collaborators to imitate his great humanity.

Are there other associations with the name  'Salesians of Don Bosco'?

Yes. There are other groups that bear the name 'Salesian'. Saint Francis de Sales, declared 2Doctor" by the Catholic Church, gave rise to a school of spirituality that is normally recognised as 'Salesian Spirituality'. There are groups that live this same spirituality and consider themselves to be "Salesians". The title 'Salesians of Don Bosco' refers to all those who live the spirituality of St Francis de Sales according to Don Bosco's style and charism.

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

The 'Salesians of Don Bosco' form a non-profit Congregation. It is recognised by the Italian Government as a juridical person for civil purposes under the title 'Direzione Generale delle Opere di Don Bosco' - domiciled in Rome, 42 Via Marsala.

Where are the Salesians of Don Bosco in the world and how many are there?

The Salesians of Don Bosco are present in 132 countries around the world. Currently there are ca. 15000 Salesians. They are active in the youth field in over 2,000 institutions.

What is the purpose of the Salesians of Don Bosco?

The purpose of the Salesians of Don Bosco can be briefly summarised as follows: 'Being a sign and bearers of God's love for young people, especially the poorest'

How do the Salesians of Don Bosco work for youth?

Here is a list of projects in favour of youth carried out by the Salesians of Don Bosco in the world:  Schools at various academic levels,, Agricultural Schools, Colleges, Universities, Oratories and Youth Centres, Parishes, Missions, Youth Movements, Publishing Houses, Social Communication Centres, Multimedia Production, Cine Forum, Theatre and Musical groups, Sports Clubs, Graphic Arts Clubs, Publications, Programs of Education for Peace and Democracy, Catechetical Centres, Rural Development Projects, Street Kid Centres, Kindergartens, Rehabilitation Centres, Guidance Centres, Drug Addiction Recovery Centres, Refugee Centres, Vocational Centres, Volunteer Centres, Fundraising agencies, Youth Research Centres and Development, and even a Green Alliance..

Do the Salesians get married?

No. The Salesians of Don Bosco do not marry. They live a consecrated life (for the good of the young).

What does 'Consecrated Life' mean?

In the Catholic Church, a person can dedicate his life to the Lord, in total free choice. This consecration made for the whole of life is manifested through the public profession of three vows: Obedience, Poverty, and Chastity.

What do the three vows mean?

The three vows are a sign by which we place ourselves totally at the service of God and his mission to make peace, truth, justice and love possible and realisable in the world. With the profession of the three votes, the candidate renounces some legitimate rights that he has as a human being - the right to free choices and decisions, the right to legitimate property (property), the right to marry and have a family.

Do the Salesians take vows for a fixed period of time?

No. Consecration is for life. The Catholic Church, however, requires that the candidate take the vows for a period of time with the intention, later, to consecrate himself forever. This period of time is known as 'temporary profession' which culminates with the 'Perpetual profession'; after about 7 years.

In the modern world, is it still possible to live a 'Consecrated Life' forever?

It is certainly not an easy task to live the consecrated life, the three vows, day after day. But it is certainly possible with the help and grace of God, relying on constant prayer, the practice of the sacraments and the observance of the Constitutions of the Salesian Society. Living in community with other members who have made the same profession, life is more than possible. It is a life lived in a joyful commitment to the Kingdom of God - and in addition to a commitment, it is truly an adventure that is worth living.

Are all SDBs Priests?

No. Not all Salesians are priests. The vocation is to be Salesians of Don Bosco and this vocation can be lived in two forms: as a Brother or Coadjutor, or as a priest. These two forms are complementary.

What is special about the Salesian Brother?

The Brother or Coadjutor Salesian, like the priest,professes the three vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. He lives the community life with the other Salesian confreres and lives the same mission at the service of the young by shaping his life on Christ the Good Shepherd and making Don Bosco's system his own in the educational field. The difference consists in the fact that his work takes place above all in activities of a secular nature. Here are some fields in which the Salesian Coadjutor develops his vocation more: Educator, Doctor, Professor, Agricultural Expert, Director of Development Projects, Administrator, Accountant, Catechist, Scout Guide, Publicist, Librarian, Architect, Computer Technician, Sports Coach , Music, etc. Currently there are 2000 Salesian Brothers in the world.

What is special about the Salesian Priest?

Just like the Brother, the Salesian Priest professes the three vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience and lives in Community with the other Salesians and dedicates his life to the service of youth shaping his existence on the example of Christ the Good Shepherd, following the example and the charism of St John Bosco in the field of education. Unlike the Salesian Brother, the Priest is particularly dedicated to the Priest's own Ministry: preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments.

How do we become Salesians?

After having discovered one's own vocation, to be Salesians of Don Bosco one must follow some phases or successive stages:

  • The pre-novitiate: to deepen the initial vocational option and prepare for the novitiate
  • The Novitiate: as the beginning of the religious experience
  • The post-novitiate: which helps one grow in the integration of faith, culture and life.
  • Practical training: which aims at a personal synthesis in the vital and intense confrontation with Salesian activity
  • Specific formation which completes the initial formation and which, for seminarians, continues until priestly ordination
  • Period of preparation for perpetual profession that verifies the spiritual maturity required by it and leads to a definitive commitment. (Ratio 311)
How long does the process take to become a Salesian?

Starting from the pre-novitiate up to perpetual vows and then being a member of the Salesian Congregation - about 7 years. The Salesian Priest receives ordination normally four years after Perpetual Profession

What are some signs of discernment of a Salesian vocation?

Here are some significant signs of a Salesian vocation:

  • Great desire to follow Christ more closely.
  • Promptness to consecrate oneself to the Lord for life
  • Genuine love for the young and desire to serve the young, especially the poorest:
  • Spirit of generosity and sacrifice and willingness to overcome the obstacles of life
  • Ability to live in community, sharing everything with the Brothers:
  • Attitude of optimism, creativity and initiative.
What are the minimum requirements to be a Salesian?

The minimum requirements for a person to become an SDB are as follows:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Be a Catholic
  • Have completed lower secondary education at least
  • Good health and good character

There are other requirements but they depend on each Province.

And the women? Can they be Salesians of Don Bosco?

No. But they can be part of the Congregation of Sisters who are called 'Daughters of Mary Help of Christians' - initials: FMA.

Who are the FMA?

Don Bosco, together with Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello, founded the 'Daughters of Mary Help of Christians' or FMA, in 1872. Although they form a separate legal entity, they share the same spirit, charism and mission as the Salesians of Don Bosco. Their specific field is the education of girls and young people, especially the poorest. Further information can be found at www.cgfmanet.org

And married people? Can married people share the Salesian spirit and mission?

Yes they can. In addition to the SDBs and the FMA, Don Bosco founded an association called: Association of Salesian Cooperators. They are lay people, single or married, who publicly promise to live the Salesian charism and spirituality in their daily life. They strive to be faithful and committed Catholics by following the Salesian vocation. Further information on this subject: cooperatori.sdb.org

If I am a former student of the Salesians or of the FMA, could I participate in Don Bosco's mission?

Don Bosco was very happy to have his former students as collaborators in the mission to poor young people after they had left their educational institutions and entered the world of work. Thanks to the initiative of an ex-student, Carlo Gastini, he saw this dream come true. And the World Federation of Don Bosco Past Pupils was born. The Confederation has two branches - male and female. Both are recognized as world civil associations. The Association is open to all former students of the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Further information: exallievi@sdb.org - if you are a Salesian student and g.eramo@tiscalinet.it if you are an FMA alumni.

Can I be a consecrated Salesian and live in the world without being in the community?

Yes. The three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience can be professed and one's life can be lived in the world. Women who wish to live this lifestyle are called Don Bosco Volunteers (VDB) - more information: www.volontariedonbosco.org . For men the association is called: Volunteers with Don Bosco (CDB). Further information: www.volontaricondonbosco.org

If I am not a Catholic, can I equally share Don Bosco's mission?

There are thousands of people around the world who are not Catholic, and yet they collaborate closely with Don Bosco's mission. Some are former students who may or may not be members of the Confederation. Others are members because they work in Salesian Institutions, and they do their best and their services are paid. Still others generously give their time and talents to create a healthier environment for young people in the countries where they live. Collaborating with Don Bosco's mission is an open invitation to all those who believe in the educational development of youth. If you want to engage in this service: contact: the nearest Salesian institution for more information.

What other groups are part of the 'Salesian Family' in the world?

Officially in the world there are 32 groups that refer to the Salesian Family: the SDBs are included here. The FMA. The Salesian Cooperators and two branches of the Confederation of Ex-Students. Don Bosco's charism continues to inspire people of good will. There are also 27 other groups that would like to be part of the Salesian Family. Take a look at the complete list in: Members of the Salesian Family.