Fr. Lourdu Raju Madanu, sacramental minister for churches in Phillips, Prentice and Catawba, is pictured with a cake celebrating both his Feb. 12 birthday and Feb. 14 anniversary of priestly ordination. Next to the cake is a statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Fr. Lourdu, named after Our Lady of Lourdes, whose feast was the day before his birthdate, has been seeking a statue of his namesake for more than six months. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

In late November, Lynne Neeck of Phillips, a member of St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Phillips, reached out to fellow parishioners and friends with a special request. Neeck was looking for a medium-sized statue of Our Lady of Lourdes for her parish’s priest, Fr. Lourdu Raju Madanu.

As of May, the request remains unfulfilled; the Catholic Herald agreed to publicize her search.

According to Neeck, Fr. Lourdu was born Feb. 12, the day after the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. As was customary in India at that time, the priest would name the child at the time of baptism. Having been born so close to the Marian feast of Lourdes, Lourdu was welcomed into the church and named after the Blessed Virgin who appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858.

Years later, Fr. Lourdu’s life would be marked by another February celebration; his priestly ordination was Feb. 14.
Fr. Lourdu’s special devotion to the rosary impacted his vocational journey, as he told Jane Schiszek, past-president of the Superior Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, in an interview. The Indian priest’s calling came while he was in the fourth grade.

Beginning on May 1 of that year, and for every day of that month per local tradition, the priests and nuns serving in his town would visit each house, praying the rosary, taking a statue of the Blessed Mother with them. After the rosary prayed at the Madanu family home, Fr. Lourdu overhead an 83-year-old nun conversing with some of her other sisters.
“This boy will become a priest,” he heard, but he shared it with no one.

After some years, Fr. Lourdu’s father wanted to offer his oldest son, then in 10th grade, to the parish priest for enrollment in the local seminary. That son was not being called to the priesthood, and so the father returned when the next son was entering the 10th grade. He also did not feel called. At this point, Lourdu was entering the seventh grade. He went to his father and asked that he be taken to see the priest, as he felt the stirrings of a priestly vocation.

The local pastor sent them home but with the missive that, should the young man still feel called when was entering 10th grade, he could return. When he came of age, he went again and was accepted into the high school seminary.

Fr. Lourdu came to the United States after ministering as a priest in his home diocese for a few years. His first assignment in the Diocese of Superior was the parish cluster for Gilman, Sheldon, Lublin and Jump River, where he spent three years. Some of his best memories there included visiting families in their homes.

While he has enjoyed all four seasons in Wisconsin, the extreme winter chills have been a challenge. Fr. Lourdu enjoys summer and fall, spending time outdoors and gardening. He shares his garden produce with members of the parish cluster and grows Indian varieties of squash that he cannot find in local grocery stores.

The Indian priest can often be found in the kitchen, preparing a meal for fellow priests or as a fundraiser for parish members. One of his specialties is “Chicken 65,” which used 65 ingredients in the recipe.

“I most enjoy being a priest and sharing the love of our Lord with the people,” Fr. Lourdu told Schiszek.
Neeck hopes that a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes might finally found for Fr. Lourdu.

Anyone who has any potential leads is asked to call the parish office at 715-339-2222 or to contact Fr. Lourdu at