The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, through the insistence of Cardinal MacIntyre and the present Cardinal, Roger Mahony, entrusted Bishop Mora Salesian High School to the care and spirit of the Salesians of Don Bosco as a way of building up the faith community of East Los Angeles.
Bishop Mora Salesian High School opened in 1958 as an archdiocesan school staffed by the Salesians of Don Bosco. The school offered four distinct academic programs: college preparatory, business, general education, and shop.Throughout the 1960's and early 1970's, Salesian was known for its strong shop programs in printing, drafting, woodworking, and electronics.During these years, the student body reflected the ethnic diversity of the neighborhood and was comprised of Latinos, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans.As surrounding communities became increasingly Latino, so did the ethnic make-up of the school.Today, the student body is 96% Latino and 98% Catholic.
The early 1970's saw a transformation of the school's curricular program. Salesian discontinued the shop and business programs and redirected resources into the college preparatory offerings.Enrollment reached an all-time peak during the late 60s and early 70s; the student body reached nearly one thousand students during these years.The faculty was staffed with predominately Salesian brothers and priests.
Catholic high schools throughout Los Angeles were decreasing both in enrollment and in religious personnel in the 1980's. Salesian High School was not immune, the enrollment during the mid 80's hovered around 300 students, and rumors of the school's closure began to spread. In 1988, the Salesians of Don Bosco responded to their declining number of religious in the Western Province by withdrawing from the administration of the school. During the following three years, the first two lay principals directed the school.
In 1992, the Provincial Chapter of the Salesian Society reaffirmed its support of Salesian High School and reestablished an official relationship with the school and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The model affirms that Bishop Mora Salesian High School is a Salesian work that participates in the educational workshops, pastoral retreats, and scholarship programs of the Salesians of Don Bosco. By agreement with the Archdiocese, the principal will be a lay person familiar with the Salesian Preventive System of Education. There will be a professed Salesian presence at the school and the spirit of St. John Bosco will continue at Salesian High School.
In that same year the school's first Advisory Board was formed in order to assist with strategic planning and the establishment of a development program. With a focus on raising funds for tuition assistance, Salesian experienced increases in enrollment. In 1998, the John and Dorothy Shea Foundation announced a $7 million grant to partially finance the construction of new academic, athletic, and multi-purpose facilities on the campus. Construction of these new facilities was completed in 2002 with Cardinal Mahoney presiding at the dedication. The statue of Don Bosco was placed once again in its place of honor, facing the entrance of the school building. Bishop Zavala led the prayers for the re-dedication of the statue, urging all to be active ministers of the Word of God.