This Kerala Parish priest juggles between spirituality and basketball

Roy Joseph Vadakkan is a Catholic priest serving as a Parish priest in St Teresa’s Ship Church, Arimpur, Thrissur district of Kerala. In addition to this, the 44-year-old young priest was an avid basketball player in his heydays and is now a national-level qualified referee who controls basketball matches across the country.

Father Roy had captained the Vadavathur Seminary basketball team and at the same time, he took the Kerala referee examinations and qualified as a referee.

The young priest is now juggling between his various duties in the parish and working as a professor and Director of Jyothi Engineering college. Armed with a post-graduation in law from the prestigious National Law School, Bengaluru, and an MBA from Christ College, Bengaluru, Father has proved his mettle in every area he has touched upon.

When asked how he was juggling the duties of a spiritual leader with that of a tough referee on basketball courts, Father Roy Joseph said, “Every human being is a blend of mind and body, so something that nourishes the mind is something spiritual and something related with the body is called physical. Being a priest and a basketball referee, I can do both the jobs and through courts, I control myself through physical activities, and in spiritual domain as a priest, I can do a lot of things spiritually and it’s a blend.”

He adds, “That’s why I can easily juggle these roles as a priest as well as a sportsman, if you are a good sportsman, you will become a good priest just like I believe that a good sportsman is a good human being.”

While being a tough taskmaster in courts, Father Vadakkan is an epitome of love to his students, players and his parish residents and is always available at a phone call for anyone who requires his support and assistance.

Being a sportsman, he is full of energy and is also an avid lover of percussion instruments and plays, ‘Sinkaramelam’ and highly popular in that arena also.

During the Holy Month of Ramzan, Father Roy fasts like the Muslim brethren, and in the Malayalam month of Karkidakam which is a ‘Ramayana Month’ now, he reads Ramayana daily.

When asked whether Catholic community is accepting this practice, Father Vadakkan said, “Catholic itself is universal. Ramayan exhorts people to fight against evil and to stand up for what was right.”

In addition to this, he is an avid environmentalist and has established a huge bamboo forest in the Jyothi Engineering College where he is a director presently. He said that when he launched the initiative in 2010, the idea was to provide a green campus for the 2000 odd students in the college.

Father Roy Vadakkan said that most of the students on the campus are from cities and towns and greenery is a luxury for most of them. He said that in the 20-acre campus there are 15 bamboo varieties and added that bamboo not only creates an oxygen-rich green campus but also reduces the temperature inside the buildings by about four degrees.

The Catholic priest who is also a social activist and environmentalist said that the bamboo forest has led to the presence of a large number of birds as well as even giant squirrels.

Father Roy Vadakkan said, “The campus of Jyothi Engineering College is situated on a slop and studies have proved that bamboo groves hold water and soil and stop landslips.”

The priest is also active in river conservation activities and is a regular at all the functions conducted by the working labour in and around his parish.

At present Father Roy Joseph Vadakkan is serving as the patron of Thrissur district basketball association and is a member of the Kerala referee council.

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