Association of Salesian Cooperators
The Association of Salesian Cooperators date back to the origins of Don Bosco’s apostolic project to help poor, abandoned boys. From the early days in Turin, he engaged men and women of different backgrounds and places to help him, within the bounds of their possibilities.
As he expanded his work he realized not only that he was increasingly in need of cooperators (including priests, but above all lay people) linked to the Salesian mission, but also to form an association for them in order to give greater power to their work.
Initially, he wanted them to be “extern” members of the Congregation of St. Francis de Sales, with a specific legal status in the congregation’s constitutions. The Holy See rejected this proposal, and he decided to organize them in the Pious Union of Salesian Cooperators (today’s ACS), with its own regulations which were approved by Pius IX in 1876
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 charism.
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.
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.
Don Bosco created a vast movement of persons to bring the Gospel of Jesus to young people and to work for their benefit. He himself founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians of Don Bosco), the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters), the Association of Salesian Cooperators, and the Association Devoted to Mary Help (ADMA). Since then other groups have formed. Today 31 groups make up the Salesian Family spread throughout the world. These Groups have specifically distinct vocations but they live in communion with each other, share Don Bosco’s charism of ministering to the young especially those who are poor and at risk.