Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Priest sentenced to house arrest for theft of $13,200 from church

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BRANDON -- A Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to 18 months of house arrest for stealing thousands of dollars from a Brandon church.

But a deacon says he and many members of the congregation forgive Father Raju Madanu for stealing the collection money from their church.

"He is an outstanding individual. We all falter from time to time," St. Augustine of Canterbury deacon John MacKenzie said after the sentencing hearing Tuesday.

About 15 to 20 members of the congregation were in court to support Madanu, 36, as he briefly and quietly apologized for stealing $13,200 from St. Augustine.

Originally from India, Madanu moved to Winnipeg in 2006 and then lived in Brandon for two years before moving to be a pastor in Virden.

Before coming to Canada, he worked as a missionary in Tanzania for three years, and last year visited his home country, where many people asked him for help.

He said he couldn't forget the faces of struggling farmers in India and orphans in India and Tanzania.

"I tried to help them with my salary, but it got to a point where I didn't have enough to give... I took the loose change from Brandon to help these people.

"I felt I was taking God's money to help the needy," Madanu wrote in a letter.

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2009 A5

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