The origin of this authoritative document, the Confidential Reminders, is a letter written to Fr Michael Rua whom Don Bosco called on to take up the running of the first Salesian house outside Turin in autumn 1863: the college or junior seminary of St Charles in Mirabello Monferrato. In a letter sent to the young Rector/Director, Don Bosco wanted to pass on pedagogical and spiritual guidelines which had already been in practice at Valdocco. These were to also characterise the apostolic and educational work in the new foundation.
It is a document “dictated by immediate needs but under the cover of practical advice, concrete examples, brief notes and insights. It had all the signs of Don Bosco’s deep certainties and keen concerns. He was convinced of that, so much so that what was a simple private letter to Fr Rua in 1863 then became—from 1871, with some retouching and additions dictated by later experiences and reflections, the “Confidential Reminders for Rectors of Individual Houses of the Salesian Society.”
The last printed version of the Confidential Reminders—the one in this volume—is dated December 8, 1886, about a year before Don Bosco’s death. The twenty six points or the original letter to Fr Rua were enriched by new content and doubled in number coming to forty seven. These are developed in eight brief paragraphs which cover the life, main tasks and ways of behaving for a Rector- Director-Educator of a Salesian house.
The item was given careful study and reflection in the Seventh Salesian General Chapter in 1895 and in the first American Chapter of the Pious Salesian Society (Buenos Aires 1901). Later, at meetings of European Salesian Provincials held in 1907, this guideline emerged: “Rectors/Directors would do very well if, on the day of the exercise for a happy death, they were to carefully read the Confidential Reminders of Don Bosco which contain so much pedagogical wisdom.”
Reference time period: 1863 – 1887
Salesian Historical Institute, Salesian Sources 1: Don Bosco and his work. Collected Works, LAS – Kristu Jyoti, Rome – Bangalore, 2017, 477-485.
Istituto Storico Salesiano