The Salesian center "Institut Don Bosco," based in Gradignan, animates and coordinates homes and services scattered throughout the New Aquitaine region in southwest France. A total of 47 facilities and centers of the Salesian institute welcome and help several thousand children, adolescents, and adults in need each year. Recently, the institution took a new step forward in developing its mission by opening three houses for minors with a social character (MECS, in French).

The mission of a MECS is to provide a safe and caring environment for children in the care of Children's Social Aid services. These three facilities, located in Langon, Saint-André de Cubzac, and Castelnau-de-Médoc, accommodate children and adolescents from ages 3 to 18, and up to 21 for the most vulnerable youth.

A special feature of each of these MECS is that eight young people in so-called "complex" situations can be accommodated and supported; these are children and adolescents who may present various vulnerabilities, such as a disability, a behavioural disorder or poverty, and who need adequate support to grow and develop in the best possible conditions.

The "Institut Don Bosco," which has been present in New Aquitaine for more than 160 years, continues and will continue to help children and adolescents to grow with dignity and develop in fullness, according to the teachings of the Founder of the Salesian Congregation, Don Bosco. In particular, the "Institut Don Bosco," which is part of the "Don Bosco Action Sociale" network of the "St. Francis de Sales" Province of France-Southern Belgium (FRB), runs reception centers for migrant minors and medical-educational institutes.

After the Salesian society was founded in 1873 it expanded rapidly and the first Salesians came to France within a year. Salesian history dates back much further than that though. St Francis de Sales was born and worked in what was then known as the duchy of Savoy, an area surrounded by the alps in South Eastern France – making him and Don Bosco compatriots!

Republished from the Spring 2022 Salesian Bulletin