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Thomas Junis

Religious Community

Salesians of Don Bosco


Bloomington, Illinois


Illinois State University

How long have you been a Catholic?

I was raised Catholic. I attended a Catholic grade school and high school, too.


What were you doing before you entered this formation program?

I went straight from college to formation.


What made you begin to consider a religious vocation?

Someone asked me, during college, if I had ever considered a religious vocation. Being an education major, I found out about Saint John Bosco, whose mission is all about education. A lot of it was being in touch with the sisters and the priests in Champaign, Illinois. I began to seek out information and discern and meet with the Salesians.


This grant is for student loan debt because we recognize how important a well-rounded education is leading up to the decision to commit to religious vocations. How did your education impact your decision to enter religious life?

Working with the youth during college really inspired me to see how they need someone to lead them to God, even just in the “father figure” aspect of teaching and working with kids. Seeing kids who didn’t have anyone really had an impact on me.


What made you choose the Salesians of Don Bosco?

Saint John Bosco’s teaching mission was really important to me. I am actually teaching now in New Jersey. At my point in formation, I volunteer at a local school. I’m in classes right now, too.


What is the most difficult part about adjusting to religious life?

Living in community is one of the most beautiful things, but it makes you see your own selfishness. You have to learn to let go.


What is the most rewarding part of religious life?

My community helps me enjoy those moments when you come together.


Who is your spiritual role model? Why?

Definitely Saint John Bosco. But also John Paul II—how he gave his life to the church and his devotion to Mary is really inspiring.


What spiritual gift do you think you bring to the order?

I tend to be very jovial: laughing, joking, and smiling—it helps with the kids. I feel like it helps them relax in places that are often unnerving.


What would you tell someone considering a religious vocation who is unsure what steps to take?

Getting to know the founder of the order was key for me. If I’m going to be a member of that order, then I know I am going to be living the lifestyle of that founder. Creating a relationship with that person and asking for intercession was a huge part of my discernment. Reading about his life and letting him speak to me was important.


What do you do, personally, to renew your strength and focus when it comes to your faith? Where do you turn for support?

Definitely the Rosary is a big thing for me—to do it every day, but also in difficult situations. I also turn to Eucharistic adoration. I also have a friend in Illinois who is discerning, and we discern together and talk about it together.


Looking beyond formation, what do you hope to be doing in ten years? Twenty?

One of my favorite things is working in summer camps, and one of the mottos is “making faith and fun one.” Spending the whole day with kids, doing recreation, learning skills, and learning about God. I like the coming together of camp and focusing on God. That’s usually what I do every summer, so one day I’d like to run a summer camp as a director.


If you met Jesus today and could ask him one question, what would it be?

What were the “hidden years” like?


What is your favorite Bible verse?

It’s from Romans: “All things work for good for those who love God” (8:28).


What is the last book you read?

I just finished a book about John Paul II. It was about his life and also a history of Krakow. It explained how different things that happened in his life shaped who he was as a pope.


What do you do for fun?

I am learning guitar. In the house we like to watch movies. The elder members like to watch classics like the Spaghetti Westerns. We also play sports—basketball and soccer.


What would you like to say to the donors who made this grant possible?

Just thank you. It means so much to my family, and it’s really a sign of God’s providence in our lives. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. I’d have to find a job and take a break from discerning. This is truly a godsend.

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