“My dear youngsters, I love you all from my heart, and it is enough that you are young for me to love you very much. I am sure you will find many inspiring books written by persons much more virtuous and learned than I am, but with difficulty will you find someone who loves you in the Lord, and who desires your true happiness more than I do. And I will teach you a way to be happy both in this life and in the next.” (Don Bosco, The Companion of Youth, 1847)

These words are taken from the first book written by Don Bosco for young people. He was just 32 years old and 6 years a priest. In it he expresses his deepest sentiments towards young people, and sums up his philosophy of education: true happiness.

Don Bosco’s way is the way to happiness, which is the goal of life and the goal of education. Note the continuity of happiness “in this life and in the next”, expressed in the word “both”. There is no dichotomy between happiness here and now and happiness in the next life. Right from the beginning Don Bosco offers the young a way to happiness that is enduring, permanent, eternal. He offers them a conception of happiness that is both immanent (in this life) and transcendent (in the next).

The Way he proposes to offer young people a happy life is through an education that is reasonable, that builds loving relationships with others, and that is a spiritual quest for a life in God - the source and goal of true and lasting happiness.


To pursue his dream for underprivileged youth in every continent, Don Bosco created the 'Salesians Society' named after his beloved saint, Francis de Sales. Its members adopted the title 'Salesians of Don Bosco' (SDB) after his death in 1988. Today they are approximately 16,000 in 130 nations. They dedicate their time and resources to the service of young people, especially those who are poorer and disadvantaged.

The focus of all their initiatives is ‘Youth Resource Development’. They believe that their total dedication to the holistic education of young people is the best gift to humanity today for a better world tomorrow.

Besides the ‘Salesians’, Don Bosco founded other autonomous organisations in order to form a world wide network committed to youth development. He called it the ‘Salesian Family’. Beginning with the Salesian Sisters, the Salesian Cooperators and the Salesian Past Pupils, the total number of member organizations is currently twenty-six. Comprehensively, the Salesian Family membership touches 402,500, and is scattered through nearly 2040 works on behalf of  youth, especially those who are underprivileged. It has one common heritage: Don Bosco’s Way of educating young people for a happy life.

PHOTOS: Youth from Salesian oratories across the world; 'DB speaks' from Il Bollettino Salesiano 12/2009; Map of the Salesian World from