Bishop dal Covolo was born in Feltre, Italy. He made his novitate at Albarè and took his first vows on 2 October 1973. He was ordained at age 29, in Milan, on 22 December 1979 as a Salesian of Saint John Bosco.
In 1986, then-Fr. dal Covolo was transferred to the Vice Province of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome and in the following years. Fr dal Covolo held a number of academic appointments: professor of ancient Christian literature and a specialist in the Fathers of the Church, dean of the Faculty of Literature between 1993 and 2000, and between 2000 and 2003 Vice-Rector of the University.
Bishop dal Covolo is a Member of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, a Consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a Member of the Commission dealing with Dispensations from priestly obligations, and a Consultor of the Congregation for the Clergy.
In 2003, then-Fr. dal Covolo was appointed by the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr. Pascual Chávez, to serve as the Postulator General for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family. Fr. dal Covolo is the second Salesian on the Commission for Sacred Archaeology- Fr. Antonio Baruffa was confirmed for a further five-year period.
He was appointed as rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, on 30 June 2010, replacing Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, who had also been serving until then as an Auxiliary Bishop of Rome and as President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Archbishop Fisichella had been appointed the first President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.
In recognition of his new responsibilities as the Pontifical Lateran University's rector, Father dal Covolo was appointed Titular Bishop of Heraclea on 15 September 2010. Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, S.D.B., Cardinal Secretary of State, was the Principal Consecrator at the Episcopal Ordination.
On Tuesday, 18 September 2012, Bishop dal Covolo was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to serve as one of the papally-appointed Synod Fathers (as a non-diocesan ordinary, but still an episcopal member, he will represent the University) for the upcoming October 2012 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.