Bloomington native Thomas Junis makes first profession of vows as a Salesian
HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. — A Bloomington native who credits the example of the late Msgr. Gregory Ketcham and the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary for encouraging his vocation, has made his first profession as a Salesian of Don Bosco.
Brother Thomas Scott Junis, SDB, professed his vows — with the intent of continuing his studies toward ordination — on Aug. 16 during a Mass at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw, New York. He is now part of the Salesian formation community in Orange, New Jersey, and taking philosophy courses at Seton Hall University.
The youngest son of Mitch and Margie Junis of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington, he has two older brothers, James and Charles.
He said he is grateful “for the loving support of my family, especially my mom and dad, for the many people who have accompanied me throughout my life, and especially for those who have been praying for me during this time of formation.”
At the end of the profession Mass, Brother Junis also mentioned Msgr. Ketcham, the former chaplain and director at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois, for the influence the priest had on his vocation.
ACCEPTING GOD’S CALL
Brother Junis attended Illinois State University in Normal, where he earned a degree in early childhood education. Those studies not only led him to St. John Bosco, whom he took as a patron, but to the St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center, where he got to know the Servants of the Pierced Hearts.
Brother Junis credits the example of the late Msgr. Greg Ketcham and the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary for encouraging his vocation.
As they joyfully lived out their religious consecration, the Sisters inspired his own growth in the Catholic faith and suggested the possibility of a vocation. He said Sister Silvia Maria Tarafa, SCTJM, director, and Sister Clara Maria Malay, SCTJM, then assistant director, accompanied him during his discernment and encouraged him to contact the Salesians at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois.
Brother Junis started meeting monthly with Father Bill Bucciferro, SDB, then part of the Champaign Newman Center’s ministry team. At Father Bucciferro’s suggestion, he went on a Salesian pilgrimage to Turin, Italy, in 2015 that marked the bicentennial of Don Bosco’s birth.
“That pilgrimage had a huge impact on me,” Brother Junis said, noting that while he was kneeling in prayer in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christian at the Salesian motherhouse in Turin, he prayed for “the courage to accept God’s call and offer my life to God and the young, and to know whether I was called to do so as a Salesian.”
When the pilgrims returned to New York, he received the call that he had been accepted into formation. He took it “as a sign of Don Bosco’s intercession” and an indication that he was truly called to be “a son of Don Bosco.”
Salesians make temporary vows annually for the first three years of profession, followed by a three-year period of profession leading to perpetual profession. In his first few years as a Salesian, Brother Junis hopes “to continue to grow in the Salesian charism and how best to be a bridge between God and the young.”
In time, he said, “I would like to work at a boys and girls club or youth center to be able to use my gift of working with younger kids and use what I learned from early childhood education degree. I would also love to specialize in college campus ministry. It was something I enjoyed during my time in college, and I know our Salesian charism would bear great fruit in a college setting in helping students discern their vocation.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The information and photo for this story were provided by Father Michael Mendl, SDB, of the Salesians’ province of the Eastern United States and Canada and former parochial vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Champaign.