May 9, 1876-2016: 140 Years in Fidelity and Love

Opening Prayer


Come, O Holy Spirit, You who inspired Don Bosco

to contribute to the salvation of the young,

illumine, with the Light of Truth, the path taken in these 140 years.

Give us the gift to confess, with ardent faith,

Jesus Christ, Lord and Redeemer,

Who died and rose for us

and Who lives forever.

He is the Gospel of God’s love for man,

of fraternal communion and of boundless love.

He is the new shoot which blossomed in the furrows of history:

from Him alone can true renewal come to fruition –

in the Church, in society, in our Association.

Come, o Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the Earth.


The Definitive Text, Papal Approval, and the Publication of the Rule


  1. In April of 1876, Don Bosco went to Rome for the eleventh time – to ask Pius IX for spiritual favors for his Cooperators and to present him with the final plan, entitled: Salesian Cooperators: A Practical Way to Contribute to Public Morality and to the Good of Civil Society. During the Audience of April 15, the Holy Father was surprised not to find any reference in the text to the lady Cooperators (in fact, Don Bosco had had the idea of creating a separate association for them, which would be linked to the Institute of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, founded in 1872): “Women,” said the Holy Father, “have always played a huge role in carrying forward good works in the Church and for the conversion of peoples. They are efficacious and enterprising even more so than men, by natural inclination. By excluding them, you will deprive yourselves of the most precious help.” (Biographical Memoirs, vol. XI, p. 62) Don Bosco promptly accepted this suggestion of the Pope and enhanced his text in this regard.


  1. In the meantime, Don Bosco received on May 9, 1876, the well-known Brief, Cum sicuti, in which Pius IX manifested his great benevolence by granting to the “Society or Union of Salesian Cooperators” those indulgences which were given to the Franciscans’ secular Third Order [Memorie Biografiche, vol. XI, pp. 545-547 (not found in the English edition)]. With the granting of these spiritual privileges, he implicitly approved the Association itself in its juridical form.


  1. After having returned to Torino, Don Bosco concerned himself with the publication of the definitive Rule, inserting into it an important preface, “To the Reader,” dated July 12, 1876; the Papal Brief; and the long list of indulgences granted to the Cooperators. This marked the peak of the controversy with Archbishop Gastaldi who had forbidden him to publish the Rule in Torino.  It was, therefore, published in Albenga, in Liguria, with the consent of the Bishop there.  In that same year, a French edition was printed in Torino: it was clear that Don Bosco had already planned a world-wide extension for his Cooperators!



April 29, 2013

Decree of Approval of 2013


The Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life after having attentively examined the Statutes, sent with the letter of April 3, 2013, with this present Decree definitively approves and confirms the Italian text, a copy of which is conserved in the Archives.

The Project of Apostolic Life, thus, defines the profile of the Salesian Cooperator and does so in such a way as to render him or her suited to his/her vocation and mission.  It is concerned with the fruit of a process of identification which, little-by-little, gives the identity and character to each of the members of the Association, whose most characteristic traits are:

  • A person rich in humanity, a typical element of the optimistic Humanism of St. Francis de Sales, which brings one to have a positive vision of him or herself, of reality, of the Church, and of the world, so as to learn to see God in all things and to see those things through God’s eyes.
  • A baptized person, with an immense love for the Church and who lives his or her gift of being a child of God and a disciple of Jesus, with joy, gratitude, and responsibility, and with a clear identity and practice of Christian life right in the midst of the temporal reality in which he or she works and lives.
  • A Salesian in the world, according to the original intention of Don Bosco, who wanted the Cooperator to be God’s impassioned collaborator in the “great choices” of the Salesian Mission: the family, the young, education, the Preventive System, and commitment in society and politics.



Lord Jesus,

make it happen that this «book of life»

accompany us always as we respond to our apostolic Salesian vocation

and thus participate in the Mission of the Church

taking our inspiration from Don Bosco’s apostolic project.



May 9, 2016: 140 Years


  • A Precious Heritage

Don Bosco lived and handed down to us an original style of life and action: the Salesian Spirit.  In living this typical Gospel experience whose source is in the Heart of Christ, the Salesian Cooperators nourish themselves in their task of apostolic charity to the service of the poor.

  • Let Us Give Thanks

The heritage which we have received as a gift is already permeated with Don Bosco’s sanctity and has already produced “fruits of sanctity”.  It suffices to recall: Mamma Margherita, Dorotea Chopitea, Francisco Benitez, Charles D’Espinay, Giuseppe Toniolo, Edvige Carboni, Lo Pa Hong, Cardinal Giuseppe Guarino, Alberto Marvelli, Alexandrina Maria da Costa, Bishop Giuseppe Marello, Maria Casella, and Attilio Giordani.  These are only some of the illustrious names to which a long line of Salesian Cooperators needs to be added: they, who, in everyday life and in fidelity, joyfully walk the path of sanctity.

  • With Hope for the Future

Let us look forward and follow Jesus, animated by the Salesian Spirit so as to:

  • Educate the poorest youth;
  • Promote, Foster, and Defend the value of the family;
  • Put into practice the Social Justice Doctrines of the Church;
  • Support missionary activity.




Lord, make our faith become hope,

a concrete hope

which gives reality to our desires

and to the plans of the young.

The words of the Gospel paint a Project of Life

and the gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to follow it.

In this way our hope

becomes concrete charity to the poorest,

great and small choices which lead us

to gestures of love,

of fraternal solidarity.


  • 140 Years: There is More Ahead of Us than Behind Us


  • A Prophecy

This prophecy is for all, but, in particular, for the young.  When looking to the future, our heart is focused on the young so that they might discover that they have been chosen by God to stay with Don Bosco.

“Listen!  You have said that the work of the Cooperators is loved by many.  And I add that it will spread into all lands, throughout all Christendom.  The Hand of God sustains it!  The Cooperators will be the ones who will help to promote the Catholic spirit.  It might be a utopian ideal of mine, but I hold to it!”  (Biographical Memoirs, vol. XVIII, p. 125) In 1876, when speaking of his Cooperators, Don Bosco expressed this bold thought: “Up until now, it seems like it’s just something little; but I hope that by means of it, a good part of the population will become Salesian and will open the way to very many things.”


  • A Blessing

            In order to take up the journey again with trust, we need a blessing.

And, behold, how greatly Don Bosco assured the Cooperators who were faithful to their Salesian vocation: “May the Lord God, rich in grace and blessings, copiously bestow His celestial favors on those who lend themselves for the work of winning souls to Jesus the Savior, of doing good for at-risk youth, of preparing good Christians for the Church and honest citizens for civic society, so that, in this way, all can become happy inhabitants of Heaven one day.”  (Rule of 1876 – Introduction: To the Reader)


Final Prayer


Lord Jesus,
help us be Salesian Cooperators in the Church
who incarnate the style that is Yours and Don Bosco’s:
a style capable of EDUCATING the young to the good life of the Gospel,
a style capable of GOING OUT to the fringes of existence and of history,
to ANNOUNCE the Good News to all.

Help us be Salesian Cooperators in the Church
who know how to LIVE in every place, in every circumstance,
and in every cultural or social transformation,
closeness and participation
in the life of every brother and sister –
above all, of the poorest.

Help us be Salesian Cooperators in the Church
who draw from the Word of God, from the Sacraments,

and from personal prayer,
so as to TRANSFIGURE our own humanity and that of others
through charity.

Lord Jesus,
only by imitating You – the new Man – will we be the Church
who gives witness to the Merciful Face of God.


140 years with fidelity and love