The Salesian Co-operators are the first group of youth ministers established by Don Bosco. He began his work in 1841 by gathering street kids and young workers on Sundays. To help him with the hundreds of boys who came to him, he enlisted the help of several people and a few local priests. Don Bosco knew he would need the help of other committed people of good will to care for the children. He invited people whom he felt had the talent and the desire to minister to young people. His own mother, Margarita, came to help him.
With the help of Pope Pius IX he formed the Association of Salesian Co-operators in 1876. There were no vows. The Salesian Co-operators are single or married lay men and women, who dedicate themselves to the welfare of young people, and live guided by Don Bosco's Salesian Spirit.
Generally the Salesian Co-operators are affiliated with a local Salesian school, parish and youth center. Some of the Co-operators work directly in Salesian ministries while others serve in their parishes or other ministries. Some Co-operators do not work directly with any particular ministry but bring the Salesian Spirit to their work place, profession and family.
The core of the Salesian Co-operator's commitment is to live his or her life as a good Christian and a good Catholic. They embrace a Gospel way of life sharing in the Church's mission to bring Christ to society, especially the young.