Michael Rua - Leadership


At the age of 26, Rua served as the Rector of Mirabello, the Society's first house outside of Turin (1863–65), then returned to Turin to be Vice Rector at Valdocco, and manager of the Letture Cattoliche (Catholic Readings). He was involved in the formation of candidates to the Society, and was the first director of the Salesian Sisters, formally called the "Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians," founded in 1872.

Rua was a constant companion of Bosco on his journeys, and became the Vicar of the Society in 1865. At the explicit request of Bosco, in 1884 Pope Leo XIII designated him to be Bosco's successor and confirmed him as Rector Major in 1888, after Bosco's death. To date he has served the longest term in this office of anyone.

Nicknamed "The Living Rule" because of his austere fidelity, Rua was also known for his fatherliness and goodness. As the numbers of members and communities increased he sent Salesians all over the world, showing special care for the missionary expeditions.

In the long journeys which he undertook to visit the Salesian works in Europe and in the Middle East he was a constant source of comfort and encouragement, always referring to the founder of the Society: "Don Bosco used to say… Don Bosco used to do it this way… Don Bosco wanted…”

When Rua died in 1910, at the age of 73, the Society had grown from 773 to 4,000 Salesians, from 57 to 345 communities and from 6 to 34 Provinces in 33 countries around the world.

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