The Salesian Cooperators are Catholics who are living the Gospel message in the spirit of Saint John Bosco while choosing to live in the world.
The Salesian Cooperators are the first group of youth ministers established by Don Bosco. He began his work in 1841 by gathering street kids and young workers on Sundays. Turin, Italy was an industrial town at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Child labor was common and because of the economic crisis in the agricultural areas of Italy at the time, great numbers of children and young people were leaving the farms to find work in the cities. The children worked six days a week, but had Sundays off. Don Bosco gathered these street kids in vacant lots for a day of play. He brought them to Church for Mass and a catechism lesson.
To help him with the hundreds of boys who came to him, he enlisted the help of several people and a few local priests. Don Bosco knew he would need the help of other committed people of good will to care for the children. He invited people whom he felt had the talent and the desire to minister to young people. His own mother, Margarita, came to help him.
With the help of Pope Pius IX he formed the Association of Salesian Cooperators in 1876. The Cooperators were lay people who live their lives as Don Bosco himself described in the little booklet, Salesian Cooperators, or A Practical Way Of Leading A Good Life And Being A Good Citizen.
The Salesian Cooperators are single or married lay men and women, or diocesan clergy, who dedicate themselves to the welfare of young people, and live guided by Don Bosco’s Salesian Spirit.
Generally the Salesian Cooperators are affiliated with a local Salesian school, parish and youth center. Some of the Cooperators work directly in Salesian ministries while others serve in their parishes or other ministries. Some Cooperators do not work directly with any particular ministry, but bring the Salesian Spirit to their work place, profession, and family.
The core of the Salesian Cooperators’ commitment is to live his or her life as a good Christian and a good Catholic. The Salesian Cooperator embraces a Gospel way of life, sharing in the Church’s mission to bring Christ to society, especially the young.