Who are the Salesians?

The term "Salesians" is commonly used to refer to the Catholic religious men's
Society of St. Francis de Sales, founded by St. John Bosco, in the 19th century.
Some Salesian web links are at the bottom of this page.

SS. Peter and Paul Homepage

St. John Bosco (1815-1888) was a native of the Piedmont area of Northwestern Italy. Most of his adult life was spent in the Piedmont capital city of Turin, where he ministered to poor and abandoned youth through youth centers ("oratories"), schools, and parishes.

To further his spirit of attracting, protecting, and educating youth, he gathered outstanding alumni of his works who were unconditionally devoted to him. In 1859, he gathered a handful of young men and proposed the idea of a religious society which was less rigorous and confining than the great Orders of the Church at that time. His followers were to "roll up their shirtsleeves" and mingle with the boys, gaining their respect and love, and thus be in a position to advise and train them in a way described as "loving-kindness." His motto "Give me Souls, you can have the rest," was put into practice through "reason, religion, and kindness."

The Catholic Church gave final approval of his society in 1874.

 

The order grew with miraculous speed. In 1872, St. John Bosco, with St. Mary Mazzarello, co-founded the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters). The religious branches of the Salesians currently number 40,000 and are found in 121 nations throughout the world. They also staff many mission foundations, mostly in Third-World countries. Today the Salesians of Don Bosco are the third-largest order in the Catholic church.

In the United States, they have two provinces headquartered in San Francisco, California and New Rochelle, New York. In California, they staff four high schools, three for boys and one co-ed. There are five major boys and girls clubs or centers -- the most noted being the Salesian Boys' and Girls' Club in the North Beach district of San Francisco. They administer five parishes, a youth renewal center, and two adult seminaries. In addition to the religious societies, there is a great number of laity, youth and adults, who follow the spirit and charism of St. John Bosco. These are the Salesian Cooperators, the Don Bosco Volunteers ("Don" being "Father" in Italian and a term of familiarity used by his followers), the Friends of Don Bosco, collaborators, and associates.

The first Salesians in America.

No preparation and no publicity preceded the arrival of the Salesian clergy to San Francisco. Heading the band of the four pioneers who came in 1897 was Fr. Raphael Piperni, a veteran of many years of experience in the missionary field and an extraordinary linguist. Joining him was Fr. Valentino Cassini, who had many years of experience administering the Salesian school for Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The third member of the group was the clerical student, Joseph Oreni, who came as a brother and departed as a priest -- the first Salesian ordained in the United States. The fourth was a Polish-born brother, Nicholas Imielinski, educated at the Salesian motherhouse in Turin, Italy. For the next fifty years, he remained the devoted sexton of the Church.

 

The first Salesians to come to America.
Standing: Brother Joseph Oreni & Brother Nick Imielinski
Seated: Fr. Raphael Piperni, Fr. Valentine Cassini

Seated Center: Blessed Michael Rua, Rector Major of
the Salesians at the time they came to America.

When the four Salesians arrived in San Francisco on Friday, March 11, 1897, they were welcomed by Fr. de Carolis at SS Peter and Paul. The next morning, they met in the chambers of Archbishop Patrick W. Riordan, who officially transferred the jurisdiction of the parish over to them. On Sunday morning, March 13, 1897, Fr. Raphael Piperni celebrated his first mass in the wooden church on Dupont and Filbert Streets. In his sermon, he outlined plans for a 15-day mission to begin on March 20th to rekindle the flame of faith that had languished in the community, and assured the parishioners that the Salesians had come "not for their money, but for their souls."

His eloquence, his strength of character, and his persuasiveness impressed those who came to attend mass. Word spread throughout the Italian colony of his oratory. And come they did to hear him speak in their native tongue. The tireless efforts of these early Salesians began to show results as the parish community grew. Little by little, many others interested in religious things returned to a regular Christian life.

The Salesian are now all over the world. To learn more, please check out these websites:

Salesian Sister of Don Bosco Website for the "Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians." (U.S.)

Don Bosco West . The official website for the Province of St Andrew the Apostle (Western U.S. and Canada).

Solutions of Don Bosco. The official webpage for the Province of St. Philip the Apostle (Eastern U.S.)

Don Bosco Philippines Website for the Salesians in the Philipppines.

Welcome to Salesian Missions Online! Information about Salesian Missions, from all over the world.

Salesians in Europe. Links to all the national Salesian websites in Europe.

International Commission on Salesian Studies