The first text (no. 272) included here is an extract from a long conference which Don Bosco gave at the opening of the Patronage de St Pierre in Nice, on 12 March 1877. After summing up the events which led to the founding of the first Salesian House in France, thanks to the involvement of a group of lay people belonging to the St Vincent de Paul Society, supported by Bishop Pietro Sola, the saint said that the work was only set up because of the fruitful cooperation between the Salesians and the Cooperators. Then, pointing out the principal purpose of the Institution (“the good of humanity and the salvation of souls”), he concluded with the reflection that we offer here, focused entirely on practical charity, works of mercy, essential features of true Christian discipleship and on the eternal reward that comes from it (cf. Mt 25:34-35).
The second document (no. 273) is a transcription of the first conference Don Bosco gave the Cooperators in Turin, on 16 May 1878. The text is important because the founder, going back over thirty five years of history of the Oratory, shows the decisive role cooperation played (understood in its broadest sense) in realising the providential works which could not have been set up without the substantial contribution of a group of generous collaborators, benefactors and Cooperators. From the moment he settled in the poor house at Valdocco, directed to “troublesome boys” in the area, until Salesian work expanded worldwide, “with the help of many people, Cooperators, we could do things that someone alone could never have done.” Now that Divine Providence had broadened the horizons of the the Salesian mission, the function of the Cooperators was more decisive than ever: without them, Don Bosco said, the Salesians “could not exercise their zeal” since “individuals are not enough, we need means” and these are entrusted to Salesian cooperation. The vibrant concluding appeal defines the vocation of the Salesian Family in a complete way: “Do you want to do something good? Educate the young. Do you want to do something holy? Educate the young. Do you want to do something very holy? Educate the young. Do you want to do something divine? Educate the young. Indeed this is the most divine of things.”
Reference time period: 1877 – 1878
Salesian Historical Institute, Salesian Sources 1: Don Bosco and his work. Collected Works, LAS – Kristu Jyoti, Rome – Bangalore, 2017, 1028-1038.
Istituto Storico Salesiano