KOTTAYAM: At 103, Fr K.C.Punnoose Choorapadil, is still young and can vividly recollect the tiger hunt he took part in at the Peerumedu forest reserve many decades ago.
Fr Punnoose, popularly called ‘Choorapadil Achan’, who belongs to the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, is probably the seniormost priest in India.
He became a Deacon at 13 and a priest when he turned 18. Though old age has forced him to rest, he still recalls his hunting days. “I hunted down a tiger from the Peerumedu range and got an award from the British for that. Hunting was a hobby and I had a gun with a licence which I later surrendered.
A Britisher, Robinson, was the game association president then and he honoured me for shooting the tiger”, said Fr Punnoose who now lives in Vakathanam.
Though he is a bit hard of hearing, his memory is sharp. He has a very sound routine. He wakes up at 4 am, but goes to bed after a light dinner at 7 pm.
“The way he maintained his body is the reason for his longevity. He was a practitioner of kalari treatment including massage. Till he was 94 he would go around on his scooter”, says Rohan, the priest’s grandson.
Fr Punnoose said he was initiated into priesthood by his uncle, the late Baselios Gheevarghese Pradhaman, Catholicos of the East.
He was a priest with the St Thomas Church, Ponganthanam, for 48 years and joined the fold first as vicar of the St Mary’s Church Vallikattu Dayara. He is still officially the vicar of the church.
He could handle the Syrian language (Suriyani) with ease. His wife was the late Achamma Punnoose. He has three sons and a daughter. The eldest son died some years ago.