Salesians of Don Bosco
Religious community founded by St. John Bosco in the 1800′s from Turin, Italy. The Salesians are 17,000 priests and brothers who dedicate their energies to working with youth in more than 130 countries. Salesians are educators, working in schools, camps, parishes, youth centers, and retreats. In Canada, the Salesians are situated in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and in British Columbia.
First, a history lesson. Southeastern France and Western Switzerland, in past centuries, were united as the Kingdom of Savoy and, later, with northwestern Italy, as the Kingdom of Sardinia. One of the ducal families was the de Sales family. From this family came Francis [1567-1622], youngest of thirteen children, who became a civil and canon [Church] lawyer. His father wanted him to enter the diplomatic service. Instead, he became a priest and, later, Bishop of Geneva. Because Geneva was a Calvinist stronghold, Francis never resided in his See. Instead, he ministered to his people from Annecy, a charming town nestled in the foothills of the French Alps.
In the Piedmont area of northwestern Italy the devotion to St. Francis de Sales was inculcated in every child. In St. Francis’ dealings with the Calvinists, he was renowned for his kindness, charity and forbearance. St. John Bosco realized that dealing with children demanded great patience, charity and kindness. Thus, he placed his new religious society under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales.
As time went on his collaborators, instead of referring to themselves as members of the “Pious Society of St. Francis de Sales,” shortened it to “Salesian.”
Francis was an outstanding teacher and writer. His great literary monuments are the Introduction to the Devout Life and The Treatise on the Love of God. For these and his many letters he was declared a Doctor [Teacher] of the Church in 1877. He was canonized in 1665, declared a patron of the deaf in 1854 and declared Patron of Catholic Journalists.