Don Bosco's Helpers
VATICAN CITY, 26 JUNE 2006 (ZENIT)
Here is the description of the
Salesian Cooperators Association which appears in the Directory of
International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical
Council for the Laity.
Official name: Salesian Cooperators Association
Acronymn: ACS (Associazione Cooperatori Salesiani)
Also known as: Salesian Cooperators
History: The Salesian Cooperators date back to the origins of Don
Bosco's apostolic project to help poor, abandoned boys: the Oratories.
From the early days in Turin, he engaged men and women of different
backgrounds and places to help him, within the bounds of their
As he expanded his work he realized not only that he was increasingly in
need of cooperators (including priests, but above all lay people) linked
to the Salesian mission, but also to form an association for them in
order to give greater power to their work.
Initially, he wanted them to be "extern" members of the Congregation of
St. Francis de Sales, with a specific legal status in the congregation's
constitutions. The Holy See rejected this proposal, and he decided to
organize them in the Pious Union of Salesian Cooperators (today's ACS),
with its own regulations which were approved by Pius IX in 1876.
The membership grew rapidly, and with their active help, the cooperators
made it possible to create and develop workshops for arts and crafts,
mutual aid societies, farm projects, printing shops, day and evening
schools, oratories, homes and shelters, missions and orphanages.
In 1895 the first International Congress of Cooperators empowered them
to contribute to resolving the great social issues created by the advent
of industrialization. This work, based on the very ideals of freedom,
justice and fellowship which are themselves Christian values, to this
day continues in the business world, schools, social work, politics and
Identity: The Regulations of Apostolic Life were drawn up in 1986.
Faithful to the ideas of the founder, they followed the magisterium of
the Second Vatican Council and set out the identity of cooperators as
humanly mature people; convinced practicing Christians; laity aware of
their vocation as baptized Christians called to take part in the mission
of the Church in the world; authentic Salesians striving for holiness,
sharing and bringing their concern for education everywhere, a key
element in Don Bosco's apostolic project.
The founding element of their experience of faith and the way they live
and conduct themselves is "being Salesians," namely, possessing that
heritage of spiritual and educational values bequeathed by Don Bosco and
by Mother Maria Domenica Mazzarello (co-founder with Don Bosco of the
Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians) which leads them
to give pride of place to the following areas of action:
the family, to foster its growth as a community of persons founded on
love and educational relations;
the school and educational institutions, to provide a comprehensive
education to young people through a pedagogy imbued with the Salesian
youth centers, to promote the healthy and creative use of free time,
receptive to such values as friendship, solidarity, and commitment to
the parish and the oratory, to cooperate in animating youth groups,
combining education with evangelization;
social communication, which creates culture and disseminates models of
living among the people so as to bring the love for truth, concern for
education, and preference for positive messages into the world of the
politics, social services;
voluntary service, to make the institutions more attentive to the common
good, to young people, to the idea of prevention in order to solve
the world of labor, to bear witness and promote an ethic of service,
solidarity with the weakest and concern for the needs of the unemployed,
moving beyond the rationale of pure economic efficiency.
Organization: The basic unit of the ACS is the center, which groups
together the cooperators working in a given territory, forming the
living cell of the association, and the place for formative and
operational exchange. The life and work of the center are governed and
animated by the local council.
Centers are grouped by province, and are accountable to the Salesians'
inspectorate (province), and animated by the Inspectorate Council. The
country or region which ensures contact and communion between the
various inspectorates is created as a national conference in countries
with a large number of cooperators (Italy, Spain, Poland and Argentina),
and as a regional conference in countries like India and Brazil.
The world convention, made up of one member elected for each region of
the Salesian Congregation, and five members appointed by the rector
major, is responsible for animating the whole association and
coordinating the educational and apostolic activities under the guidance
of the rector major.
Membership: ACS has a membership of about 30,000, and is present in 58
countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South
Works: Salesian cooperators generally place themselves at the service of
the works of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SOB), sometimes hold¬ing posts
of responsibility. In some situations, particularly in the Third World,
they manage oratories, schools and family hostels.
Publications: "Salesiani cooperatores," published every two months in
Web site: www.sdb.org
Associazione Cooperatori Salesiani
Via della Pisana, 1111
Tel. (39) 066-5612636
Fax (39) 066-5612556
© Copyright 2006
Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]