the poor boy's saint
►Do you feel at home with youngsters?
Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Salesians are a worldwide organization founded by St. John Bosco,
the third largest Catholic religious order in the world! Don Bosco
gathered a number of priests and lay people together to found a
religious congregation in the Catholic Church. He called this
congregation the Salesian Society. It was named after St. Francis de
Sales who was known for his kind and gentle manner, a trait which Don
Bosco wanted his Salesians to acquire. He also chose Mary,
Help of Christans, as the patroness of the Salesian Society. The Shrine
of Don Bosco's Madonna is pleased to present: The Salesians
by Fr. Brian Moras, SDB.
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. St. John Bosco was a native of
the same area. 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."
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." The Catholic Church gave final approval of his society in
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
the poor boy's saint
Bosco had a tremendous love for the poor; he always saw Jesus in them;
he took Jesus at His word. He knew that whatever he did for street
children, he did for Jesus, and this was not just an act of faith, but a
real conviction." -Mother Teresa of Calcutta
The Salesian story begins with Saint John Bosco in the mid-nineteenth
century. A farm boy from the Piedmont region of Italy, he grew to
manhood with a deep desire to help young people who appeared to be
abandoned by society.
Some called him a madman. You won't believe this, but his fellow-priests
looking at him running, jumping and playing among the street urchins,
holding his cassock high with his hands, thought him to be one. In those
days, 1841 to be precise, a priest was not supposed to 'dirty himself'
by mixing around with ordinary people. And God forbid, if he were to
play games, that too with the dirty and homeless boys on the streets!
Don Bosco did exactly that. He played with them, cried with them, took
care of them, built schools and boardings for them. He gave his whole
life for them.
Initially the youngsters were attracted to him because of his skill as
an acrobat, a magician, a card player, a musician. He led his bands of
city toughs and homeless youngsters on hikes through the countryside and
on outings to the famous spots of Turin. He organized them into choirs
and brass bands, troupes and self help groups. When cholera struck
Turin, he organized them into nursing teams.
Don Bosco named his first gathering place the "Oratory of Saint Francis
de Sales" and later named his permanent band of assistants "Salesians",
that is imitators of Francis de Sales, the Geneva bishop remembered for
his missionary zeal, his simple and popular style, and his gentleness.
The Salesians bear his name as a reminder that reason, religion and
kindness are the hallmark of their educational method.
The educational work of Don Bosco is carried on today by an organization
linked by philosophy and purpose to a worldwide network called the
Salesian Family. The Salesian Society (SDB), is a community of priests
and brothers with religious vows. The Daughters of Mary Help of
Christians (FMA), also known as the Salesian Sisters, is a similar
institute for women. Lay persons who participate in the Salesian work
from their homes or places of business are known as Salesian
Co-operators. A secular Institute of men and women with religious vows
who live in their homes without the outward signs of consecrated life
are known as the Don Bosco Volunteers. The Past-Pupils Association
consists of students who have been members of Salesian Institutions;
they also form part of the Salesian Family.
St. John Bosco founded the Salesians in 1859, his mission was clear and
simple: to be a friend - a friend to kids who were poor, kids abandoned,
kids at risk - and, in so doing, to be a friend to Christ. Today, this
Catholic religious organization continues doing the work of the Lord in
the spirit of its founder - with over 40,000 Salesian priests, brothers,
sisters, and lay people working in 120 countries all over the world.
Salesian Missionaries care for disadvantaged youth in developing
countries. They do this through education, job training and constructive
recreational activities. Their objective is to help youngsters achieve
intellectual, emotional and spiritual maturity, thus becoming
self-sufficient contributing members of society, with Christian values
and good social skills.
Salesian Missionaries also reach out to the community by assisting poor
families and the elderly through varied social services. The Salesian
Mission Office informs the public of the work of our Missionaries. We
invite people of good will to participate in the support of our programs
through their gifts and their prayers. We pray for all who request
prayers and we carry on a ministry of distributing religious and
inspirational literature to the public.
Do you feel at home with youngsters?
Is the Lord calling you to
work in his Vineyard? Do you feel at home with youngsters, more so the
young at risk? The Lord may be calling you to be His Salesian!
To be a Salesian is to be another Don Bosco, always present to the
young, wherever they may be - especially those on the streets, those
from broken families, those who have none to call their own, the poor
and the abandoned; and to do it with a cheerful heart. For it is God's
You can be a Salesian either as a brother or as a priest. There are two
basic ways of living the Salesian (SDB) vocation: brotherhood and
priesthood. It all depends on what God is calling you to do. The
Salesian brother has traditionally been associated with technical
schools, but many brothers also work with street boys, or as principals
of academic schools, or in the field of social work and development. The
Salesian priest works side by side with the Salesian brother in the
service of young people, but brings to them the ministry of the
priesthood, most especially in the area of spiritual direction, the
sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist.
A road map to becoming a Salesian
A Salesian Brother
Aspirant - till XII
1year - Prenovitiate
1 year - Novitiate
2 years Magistero Studies
3 years Graduate/Professional studies
2 years Practical Training
A Salesian Priest
Aspirant - till XII
1 year - Prenovitiate
1 year - Novitiate
2 years Philosophical studies
2/3 years Graduate/Professional/PG studies
2 years Practical Training
4 years Theological studies
If you are interested in more information on Salesian vocations,
please contact your nearest Salesian community. In India, please write
Rev. Fr. Brian Moras SDB
Don Bosco Provincial House, Post Bag - 16637
Matunga, Mumbai 400 019
Phone : 24180314/24180316
Website - Province: www.donboscomumbai.org
Vocation Enquiry Form :
was in a large gathering of youngsters in Italy that the Salesians asked
the youngsters the all important question: "Why is it that so few of you
think of joining the Priesthood, Brotherhood and the Sisterhood?" The
answer they received was an unexpected one, it was "Nobody asked us,
nobody encouraged us, and we didn't know how to go about it."
The Salesians realized that they had made a mistake in the West, they
had made the mistake of thinking that their huge institutions would
speak for themselves. We need to learn from our Lord Jesus who himself
felt the need of approaching people personally and extending to them a
personal invitation to follow Him. "Come and See", said the Lord to
Andrew and the other disciple in the Gospel of St. John, chp. 2. "Follow
me and I will make you fisher of men", said our Lord to Simon Peter our
first Pope. "Follow me" said Jesus to the corrupt tax collector, Mathew.
Jesus will say in Scripture, "Many are called, but few are chosen". I
believe very strongly that what Jesus really meant is this, "Many are
called, but very few have the courage, the faith, and the trust to say
Yes to the Lord; so we have a few who are chosen". Jesus will further
say, "The harvest is so rich, but the laborers are so few. Hence, pray
to the Lord of the Harvest, to send laborers into his harvest." Hence
the need of deep prayer especially in the family in discerning this
privileged calling to work in the Lord's Vineyard.
The all important question is how do I know whether I've got a Vocation?
I think the question we need to ask first is, "What are the different
ways the Lord calls?" In the Scripture we see, the Lord choses whom he
wants. We have the disciple Paul, who had to be struck down from the
horse to realize that Jesus is Lord and Saviour and hence his decision
to serve the Lord alone. We have the young boy Samuel being called, when
he did not even know the Lord……..
How does the Lord call today??? I put this question to the many groups I
speak to in schools, youth groups, and sometimes in the parishes. The
common answers are: in dreams, some further say - in my dream I would
find myself saying Mass or preaching, some will add through prayer,
while reading the bible, inspired by a teacher or my parents, through an
accident……… all these answers are correct, though each have their own
limitation. It is very interesting speaking to youngsters about a
religious calling. Most of them will smile and call out someone else's
name as a worthy candidate. Very few believe that the Good Lord could be
extending a personal invitation to them.
The reasons for this are many. One of the important reasons is the very
small families that we have nowadays. Hum do, humare do (we two, ours
two). Or in some cases, hum do, humare ek (we two, ours one). The cost
of living, and competition for jobs has gone up so much, and faith in
God has come down so much that accepting more children as a gift from
the Lord is unacceptable.
Another important reason is the lack of prayer in the family and to add
to this the lack of love for Priests, Brothers and Sisters. We can be
very uncharitable to our Spiritual leaders in our conversations
sometimes especially in the family.
To add to this we have the exposure to life which is mind boggling. Be
it the TV, Internet or the written media. "Live life king size, is the
running motto". The need to experience as much as possible without
getting caught is another big temptation. Morality today appears to be
on the wane. How can a religious Vocation flower in such settings?
Herein, we can truly say, "Many are called, but few are chosen".
We also need to add that the demands that Religious Life makes can
discourage many a youngster.
Fortunately, ours is an awesome God who is even today calling youngsters
to serve Him exclusively. He puts this desire in their hearts right from
a young age. Where there is prayer in the family, love and unity among
the parents and love and respect for Priests, Brothers and Sisters, in
that family a vocation will nurture. The family is the nurturing ground,
good families (even though we have our regular fights,
misunderstandings) will bear good fruit. The mere desire of the
youngster to come to church and serve at the Lord's altar are very
Our Father Don Bosco was crazy about Vocations. In his life time, even
by 1877, he had promoted nearly 6000 priests to his congregation and
also to the diocese. Don Bosco would often say: "A Priest, Brother or
Sister is the greatest gift that the good Lord could give to a family.
When a person leaves to join the religious life, the Lord himself takes
the place of that person in the family."
It is true and I know it for a fact. The Lord takes care of the family,
much more than we could even dream of doing ourselves. The good Lord can
never be outdone in generosity. Great is the joy of parents of having
one of their sons or daughters full time in the service of Jesus. It
actually keeps them healthy, happy and always grateful to the almighty
for this special gift.
Don Bosco would further say to the Rectors in a conference which he gave
in 1877 "As of now, fostering vocations is the main objective of our
Congregation. The unusual scarcity of priests which worsens every year
is presently our gravest threat… first seek those who may be inclined to
join our Congregation, but do not push anyone into it."
It is no secret that in the West the number of vocations is on the
decline. The Western Church today is looking to the East, and especially
India for its healthy revival. It is no secret that the Western people
love the Priests and Sisters coming from India, if you don't believe me
kindly ask our Parish Priest Fr. Colbert who has recently returned from
the USA, the people there wanted him to stay. "In earlier times the
Western Missionaries came to preach the good news and to baptize in the
name of the Lord; it is time today" the Holy Father would say "that the
Indian priests now come back as Missionaries to the West. The Indian
Church has received much and much is demanded now in return." India,
even today is looked upon as a land of deep spirituality. Looking at the
Salesian world which numbers approximately 17,000 Salesian Frs. and
Bros. working in 129 countries, of these 2,500 Salesians hail from
India, working in 9 provinces.
When a social worker asked Mother Teresa, "Mother what is the difference
between you and me?" The most humble Mother said, "Both of us are the
same, except that when you work, you work for something, whereas, I work
When what I plan for myself matches with the plan the good Lord has for
me, then we will be truly happy in life. If the Lord calls you to it,
then no matter how difficult it gets, he will see you through it! If the
Lord has put the desire in any one of your hearts to be a Salesian
Priest or Brother or Sister, have the humility to say Yes!
God bless you!
Fr. Brian Moras sdb
a college seminary?
►Do I have to know for sure that I am going to be a priest or a brother
to go to the college seminary?
►How old do I have to be to go to the college seminary?
►What's the biggest difference between going to college and going to a
►What advantages are there to being a college seminarian?
►What do I study at the college seminary?
►How smart do I have to be to be a college seminarian?
►How much does college seminary cost?
►What can I do if my parents think I should wait until I graduate from
college or work a few years before I start studying for priesthood /
►What will my friends think?
►Can I date if I go to a college seminary?
►Can I play sports if I go the college seminary?
a college seminary?
A college seminary is a place where men of college age go to begin
their preparation for priesthood or brotherhood. The college seminary
prepares them intellectually by helping young candidates to finish the
required junior college while attending conferences in preparation to
enter the next level of religious formation, namely the pre-novitiate.
There are two basic models of college seminaries. One is the affiliated
model where students live together at the seminary and take their
academic coursework in an outside college or university. The other is
the free-standing model where all aspects of seminary life, including
academics, are through the seminary. Typically free-standing seminaries
are much smaller in size and offer more individual attention to the
needs of the seminarian.
Do I have to know for sure that I am going to be a priest or a brother
to go to the college seminary?
Yes. A basic desire must be there. In fact, certainty (as in 100%)
of the call may never come. Doubts about one's vocation are common among
seminarians at every stage. What is required is a sense that priesthood
would be a good fit and a joyful life for you. You should also sense in
your heart that God is asking you to take this step to consider more
carefully the priesthood or brotherhood. Through the experiences of
being a seminarian, one fairly early on gets the sense as to whether the
seminary is the right place for him and whether priesthood or
brotherhood is something he should be preparing for.
How old do I have to be to go to the college seminary?
One needs to simply have passed high school to enter a college
seminary. Many young men enter right after school, while others will
begin college seminary studies after a couple of years of working or
going to another college or university. Generally the right age to
respond is when the Lord calls!
What's the biggest difference between going to college and going to a
Colleges and universities typically only focus on academics and the
evaluation of college work is a report card and transcripts showing
courses taken and grades achieved. The college seminary is concerned
with several other areas of growth, including but also going beyond
academics. The college seminary focuses on human formation (growth as a
person, communication and relationship skills, leadership, etc.);
spiritual formation (becoming a man of prayer; being a disciple of Jesus
Christ; daily Mass and prayer; having a spiritual director, etc); and
pastoral formation (service to the poor; helping at a parish; teaching
religious education; visiting the sick, etc). A College seminary focuses
on the growth of the total person, and evaluations of college seminary
formation look at how well the man has grown each year as a person, as a
follower of Christ, and as a man of the Gospel.
What advantages are there to being a college seminarian?
As mentioned, the greatest benefit to college seminary is being a
part of a supportive environment where all aspects of human growth are
encouraged. One's faith life tends to really flourish in the seminary
because of the focus on meeting the Lord daily through the Mass and
other prayers. Living in an environment where being Catholic is
supported helps men make good moral choices for life as well. After
completing college seminary the man is prepared to enter the
pre-novitiate program. For those who don't go to the college seminary,
there is usually a year of on hand experience that must be done before
beginning the pre-novitiate program. So a man can save a year of
formation by going to the college seminary.
What do I study at the college seminary?
This depends on the seminary one goes to. One basically finishes
junior college in the course of his choice, be it Arts, Science or
Commerce. Most seminarians receive the higher secondary school
certificate on completion. The academic program is designed to meet the
needs and interests of the seminarian.
How smart do I have to be to be a college seminarian?
Seminarians should have above average intelligence and above average
grades. They don't need to be geniuses, but they have to be able to do
well academically in college. Sometimes youngsters struggle with maths
and science and do very well in English and history. That's okay,
because some fields are more critical than others. Most seminaries have
a very supportive learning environment that helps each student excel to
How much does college seminary cost?
Tuition and room and board charges vary among seminaries. However,
no one is denied the opportunity to prepare for priesthood or
brotherhood because of financial reasons.
What can I do if my parents think I should wait until I graduate from
college or work a few years before I start studying for priesthood /
Unfortunately there are some parents who think that 15 is too young
an age to think about religious life and act on a possible call. That is
a young age, but we believe that God does indeed genuinely call young
people to serve Him. Many times the objections are more of an issue for
the parents than for their son, i.e. a desire for grandchildren or to
pass on the family name, or thinking their son can't be happy or won't
be wealthy as a priest. Parents need to realize that by merely going to
seminary a young man isn't limiting his options for the future, but is
really expanding them by offering a host of opportunities other college
students don't have. Those who decide not to continue on in seminary
formation almost always leave with a greater sense of who they are and
what they are called to do and are grateful for their experiences in the
seminary. God never abandons those who step out in faith to respond to a
call to religious life. It also might be helpful to ask whether parents
would respond in the same way if their son wanted to be a doctor or
lawyer. The basic point is that parents ought to support their sons to
become who God wants them to be, independent of the parents' own hopes
and plans for what they would like for their son. We find that the
majority of parents are supportive of their sons' pursuit of religious
life once they understand what seminary life is really about.
What will my friends think?
I don't know what your friends will think, because a lot depends on
who your friends are! In most cases, though, once they learn what a
college seminary is like, they will see it as a good choice for you.
Those who have difficulty understanding why you might want to be a
priest or brother are more likely questioning their own faith and
ability to make commitments rather than saying anything about you.
Can I date if I go to a college seminary?
Seminarians are encouraged to build strong relationships with men
and women, so social interaction with women is encouraged. Exclusive
dating relationships are not permitted, because a man needs to discover
whether the commitment to celibacy will be possible for him. You cannot
fully and fairly discern religious life while in a dating relationship.
College seminarians are encouraged to live the challenge of celibate
love to see if it fits them. This includes: striving to use their
energies to grow passionately in love with God and to feel His
passionate love for them; to make efforts to be inclusive in their
relationships seeking out those whom others keep at a distance; to
stretch themselves in their commitments of service so that they feel
themselves spending their lives tirelessly for the sake of the many; to
speak fearlessly for the truth in defense of life and the vulnerable
today; to live more simply in the world so as to witness more
effectively to the Gospel of Jesus we profess; to be radically involved
in people's lives as a means of God's forgiveness, mercy and compassion;
and to see each person as brother and sister in the Lord. If such
experiences draw a genuine sense of joy to their heart, then religious
life will likely be a good fit for them.
Can I play
sports if I go the college seminary?
Absolutely! Physical exercise and athletic competitions are
important for all seminarians as well. Some seminaries are involved in
campus athletic competitions - basketball, soccer, cricket and
DON BOSCO YOUTH
Relic of Don Bosco
Campers and BYG Re-union
Altar Servers Rally