Fr. Jis Jose becomes 1st Syro Malabar priest to hold religious teacher rank in Indian Army
Kochi: Father Jis Jose became the first Syro Malabar priest to hold the rank of an officer in Indian army. He is appointed as the religious teacher in the rank of a junior commissioned officer.
Army appoints various religious teachers in the army. Fr Jis who believed in doing something different in life applied for the post that was advertised in the newspapers. He was, then, serving as the vice principal of the Kanchiyar John Paul Memorial College in Indukki. This is the only post that Indian government offers to a priest in which a priest can become an army officer practicing priesthood.
To achieve this, he had to pass many physical tests and exam. Physical test was at Bagalkot in Karnataka. The candidate has to finish a distance of 1600 meter within 5.40 minutes. Fr Jis, a badminton player could easily do that. This was followed by an entrance exam. As he passed it, a seven-week-long training including how to use gun for self-protection awaited him.
When physical training was over, a 11-week-long spiritual training was given at the Institute of National Integration in Pune. Other religious scriptures, rituals, celebrations and manners were part of the study. As he successfully completed the training and tests, he was finally appointed as the Junior Commissioned Officer (Religious Teacher). He could be appointed anywhere in India and can wear his cassock except in official functions.
Religious teachers are appointed in the army to instil brotherhood, secularism and coexistence among the army personnel. The basic function of a religious teacher is to interpret religious scripts rightly, share values and to celebrate the religious festivals of all religions together. My batch has 19 members; 16 pandits, one Buddhist priest and one sikh priest besides me, said Fr Jis.