Don Bosco Volunteers
Founded: 1917 by Bl. Philip Rinaldi; approved as a secular institute of pontifical right, Aug. 5, 1978.
Purpose: Following the charism of St. John Bosco, in an effort to renew society from within, members bring their talents to a variety of apostolates, particularly on behalf of the youth.
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The Don Bosco Volunteers is a secular institute for women who love Don Bosco's spirit and choose to follow in his footsteps for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. In the19th century St. John Bosco had already envisioned a novel type of consecrated life for "extern" Salesians living in the world. Historically the Don Bosco Volunteers were founded as a lay association in 1917 by the Blessed Philip Rinaldi, Don Bosco's third successor as Rector Major of the worldwide Salesian Family. After the Church's approval of Secular Institutes in 1947, the Don Bosco Volunteers prepared a new text of their Constitutions, in accordance with new papal documents (1956). On January 31, 1971, the Cardinal of Turin established the Don Bosco Volunteers as a Secular Institute under diocesan law.
Approved by Paul VI on July 21, 1978, the Don Bosco Volunteers became a Secular Institute of Pontifical Right on August 5, 1978, the day before the Holy Father died.
The Volunteers will always remember this great Pope for the encouragement he gave to our Institute; his memorable words shall always be inscribed in the hearts of its members:
Who Are They?
The Don Bosco Volunteers (DBV) are consecrated women who live in the world, dress like other women, work among others; they carry on a quiet and steady mission of making Christ and His message known through the witness of their personal lives and apostolic response to the needs of the hour. More than 1300 consecrated persons are members of this secular institute worldwide. Following the plan of holiness outlined in their rule, the DBVs receive spiritual direction and encouragement from Salesian Priests, who support them in their efforts toward personal holiness and apostolic activity.
Where Are They?
The Volunteers are scattered throughout the world. You will find them in different countries and in diverse cultures. They are in countries throughout Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Australia, the Philippines, Central and South American, the United States, Canada and among the African nations.
How Are They Organized?
The Volunteers are a part of the Salesian Family which comprises Priests, Brothers, Sisters, Cooperators, alumni; hence, the DBVs have great moral and spiritual assistance in their consecrated life. The Secular Institute itself is governed by a president general and her council, all duly elected. Their headquarters are in Rome. Constant communication is maintained by monthly letters which contain notes on spirituality, in addition to news coming from all areas of the globe where members are engaged in apostolic endeavors.
What Is Their Mission?
The Volunteers are committed to apostolic activity either in their own environment, or in the service of the local church, or within the Salesian family. Simply, the Don Bosco Volunteers brings Christ with them wherever they are.
2. Local Church:
3. Salesian Family:
To Become A Volunteer
Single, unmarried women who feel called to this style of consecrated life can apply to become members. Potential candidates must also possess the psychological and emotional maturity needed for apostolic mission as consecrated women. Likewise, they must be financially self-supporting.
Women aspiring to enter this Institute must undergo a period of preparation called the "aspirantate." While attending to the refinement and development of their human qualities and to growth in their spiritual life, they are also trained for the consecrated and apostolic life in the Salesian spirit, according to the teachings and example of St. John Bosco.
After the preliminary formation, members consecrate themselves by the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. As full- fledged Volunteers, they continue to complete their formation in a three year period; during this time they become more fully involved in the life of the Institute. The initial consecration is temporary for the first six years; then the Volunteers are free to commit themselves for life or to wait another three years before making a perpetual commitment.
One of the features of the Don Bosco Volunteers is a spirit of reserve; they do not wear a particular habit nor carry any distinctive insignias; they even prefer not to be known, in the places where they live and work, as being consecrated women. "It is not," explains the current president of the Don Bosco Volunteers, "simply a desire to have an easy way out or to avoid the commitment of an authentic witness to the Gospel. The reserve is dedicated by the fact that if people with whom the Volunteer lives and works should identify her as a consecrated person, they would feel that her response to any question is conditioned by her life-style." It is a fact that the priest, for example, hears people tell him at times: You're saying this or doing this because you're a priest. "The effectiveness of our witness would be radically undermined," explains the president.
Don Bosco Volunteers
The Volunteers claim their Salesian character, of course, by the very name of their institute. "The Volunteer describes herself before the Church and the world as a spiritual daughter of Don Bosco and as a witness of his charism," as we read in their Constitutions. And the Institute is recognized -- along with its necessary distinction and autonomy -- as part of the worldwide Salesian Family. Therefore, its style is Salesian: "The Volunteer intends to live her entire mission in the spirit and in the style of Don Bosco."
The Volunteers work with the young people, particularly the poor and the needy; likewise, they labor on behalf of the working classes, and seek to foster vocations for home and foreign missions. If they wish, the Volunteers may offer their services to the Salesians in foreign lands.
"Come, Follow Me"
Prospective candidates will do well to reflect on some of the advantages of joining the Don Bosco Volunteers: a wide variety of apostolates as Christian leaven in the great mass of secular society, the assurance of regular spiritual direction and a sounding board from outside one's immediate environment, deep personal friendships with persons of similar convictions, mutual support fostered by monthly recollection days and yearly retreats geared to people having the same ideals, the graces proper of those who are faithful to their profession of the evangelical counsels.