Our Founders and History
St. John Bosco (also known as Don Bosco) and St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello were the chosen instruments of God, whose work, begun in the late 19th century, rapidly spread into a worldwide family dedicated to young people.
Don Bosco's dream was to teach the young practical life skills, and to nurture their hearts with the experience of God's love. For over 20 years he worked only with boys. Then in one of his dreams, Mary, the Blessed Mother, made it clear that girls "were her children too". It was at that point that the Holy Spirit brought Don Bosco and Mary Mazzarello together.
Mary Mazzarello's presence and work with the girls in her town resonated in many striking ways with Don Bosco's work for boys. But above and beyond the work itself, Don Bosco was deeply impressed by the selfless dedication that motivated her. From this spirit-filled encounter, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians were born.
On July 16, 1908, the first four missionary Salesian Sisters arrived in New York City. They settled in Paterson, NJ, to begin their ministry with the children of Italian immigrants.
The beginnings were challenging. Their new home consisted in three bare rooms, no furniture, and a partial roof. They had no food of their own, nor a stove, but depended on the rectory for meals. Their diet was spartan but the dire situation surprised none of them. Work, privation, and sacrifice had been foreseen as part of their offering to the Lord for the fruitfulness of the mission. For many years there would even be sisterly rivalry to see who could get along with the least for herself so the others could have more; who could do extra work so the others could have a bit of rest.
With courage, self-forgetfulness, and creativity they were able to overcome the many challenges that come with the total giving of one's life to the Lord. God blessed their sacrifices and the Sisters were able to establish schools and youth centers for the Christian education of the young, not only in Paterson but in many places throughout the United States.
In July 2008, it became 100 years since the arrival of the first four Salesian Sisters. The Salesian Sisters continue to be actively engaged in ministering to youth and with youth, especially the poor and marginalized.
As the centennial theme goes "Celebrating Youth...Building the Future!"
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