The Association of the Salesian co-operators began as part of Don Bosco’s apostolic plan in favour of poor boys. For his work of the oratories they needed lay helpers whom they considered thought as “Extern Salesians” in the congregation of St. Francis de Sales. On May 9th 1876 the regulation was approved as a Pious Association by Pope Pious 9th. In 1986 the present rules and regulation of the apostolic life was approved by the Holy See. The FMA started to collaborate from 1874. The 3rd World Congress of the Salesian co-operators was held at Rome, from 9th to 12th Nov. 2006 for the renewal of the regulations and the same was sent to the Holy See for its approval.
The co-operator is a person who has deliberately made the promise to live her or his Baptismal commitment in the Salesian Spirit. One who has made a deliberate choice for Don Bosco and his way of living the Gospel and who wishes to continue his mission Don Bosco himself received it from God that of saving the poor and the abandoned.
The first co-operators in India
In January 1906, six Salesian landed at Madha Kottai Tanjore in India and started their mission among the poor of the Diocese. A month after their arrival the Salesians spoke to the people regarding the association of the co-operators, 41 of them who were involved in teaching catechism and in the activities of the local church enrolled themselves in the association. Their names were sent to Don Rua who was then Rector Major. In 2006 the Centenary celebration was held from January 14 – 16 at Tanjore.
When the FMA arrived at Tanjore in 1922, the co-operators always accompanied them in their mission. The sisters worked together with the Salesian and the co-operators. The sisters officially started the centres for the co-operators in their mission places on First January. The first centre began to function at Kingsford, Chennai.
In the province of Chennai there are 34 active centres. And we are happy, to say that there are 14 co-operators centres in which various activities and celebrations are galore. Among 14 centres, 7 centres are very active with various activities and the other 7 centres are trying to do their best.
- Total number of members – 236
- Total number of men – 71
- Total number of women – 161
Various activities of the association are as follows
- Parish animation
- Visiting the families, to give council
- Organizing youth programmes
- Conducting Rosary in the families
- Financial assistance to the poor students
- Active involvement in anbiyams
- Conducting VBS classes in the parishes for children
- Seminar for aspirant co-operators
- Conduct retreats
- Strenna explanation
- Promise day celebration
- Celebration of annual day
- Don Bosco’s feast day
- Delegate, co-ordinators and councillors meet
- Salesian Family day
- Christmas and Easter celebrations
Strength of the Association
- Acceptance of the association in the family
- Responsible posts are held by the co-operators in schools and parishes
- Few houses have started the associations
- Ability to mingle with other groups of the Salesian Family
Action plan for the future
- Encourage the young to join the association
- To start co-operators centres in our houses & in other Salesian family institutions
- Enhancing the spiritual life of the co-operators
- Seminar on new RAL
- To conduct seminar on the association of Salesian co-operators for the young sisters