Opus Dei Priest Dies From Heart Attack While Preaching at Retreat

German Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who was the personal secretary of the late Pope Benedict XVI, ordained Father Sarraf in Rome along with 26 other members of Opus Dei on May 22, 2021.

Father Fadi Sarraf, 51, was a recently ordained Opus Dei priest.
Father Fadi Sarraf, 51, was a recently ordained Opus Dei priest. (photo: Courtesy photo / Opus Dei)

Father Fadi Sarraf, a recently ordained priest of Opus Dei, reportedly died of a heart attack while preaching at a facility near Montreal, Canada, where the personal prelature often holds retreats.

“Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Fadi Sarraf, 51, who passed away today suddenly of an apparent heart attack while preaching a retreat at the Manoir de Beaujeu. May he rest in peace,” Opus Dei’s information office in Canada said on X Tuesday.

Prior to being a priest, Father Sarraf, an immigrant from Damascus, Syria, was an engineer in Canada. He came to that country at 17 years old, according to a June 2021 article on Opus Dei’s website.

German Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who was the personal secretary of the late Pope Benedict XVI, ordained Father Sarraf in Rome along with 26 other members of Opus Dei on May 22, 2021.

Father Sarraf, who joined Opus Dei in 1990, first encountered the personal prelature in 1989 when one of his classmates at McGill University in Montreal invited him to visit the Riverview Study Centre, a formation center for young men run by Opus Dei.

“I really enjoyed the different activities that they had, the conferences, the times of prayer in the chapel and especially the study weekends and the hikes,” he said.

Father Sarraf described leaving his homeland for Canada as “not easy” but said that “by overcoming my fear of the unknown I learned that beauty and goodness can express themselves in different ways.”

“This led me to be curious about discovering it in everyone I meet and in every situation,” he said.

After graduating as a mechanical engineer, Father Sarraf earned his master’s in business administration at Laval University in Quebec City. 

Following his graduate degree, he became the director of Ernescliff College, a student residence run by Opus Dei that offers Christian formation on the University of Toronto campus.

Father Sarraf also worked part time leading a formation program at Northmount, a Catholic boys’ elementary school in Toronto.

Moving to Montreal in 1997, Father Sarraf then worked for the Foundation for Culture and Education as a project manager and fundraiser. The foundation is an institute for the formation of men and women in Canada.

Able to communicate in five languages, Father Sarraf said that his goal in life was “to do God’s will in whichever way it manifested itself.”

“In the early years that meant doing different projects, taking care of different apostolic activities and construction projects for facilities that would be used for Opus Dei’s apostolates,” he said.

“Over the last four or five years there was more focus on preparing for the priesthood, even though I continued with many of the tasks I had before,” he added.

Father Sarraf said his decision to become a priest became “crystallized” in 2017, and he moved to Spain to pursue a master’s degree in theology at the University of Navarre.

He then pursued his doctorate in spiritual theology in Rome in 2020. 

“The decision to become a priest is in continuation with my decision to serve God in Opus Dei. Obviously I will serve God in a different way because you change your profession: as a priest you become a priest 100%, so you leave behind your other activities. During the years that I have been in Opus Dei, God has been preparing me for this transition,” he said at the time.

Father Sarraf said that “to serve others is the primary goal of the priest, to bring them closer to God, to help them discover God’s love in their daily life.”

“Ever since I announced that I was going to be ordained a priest, many people have been writing to me asking me for prayers, assuring me of their prayers too. I actually keep a list of the different requests so that I don’t forget anyone,” he said.

“My primary intention is that more people in the world discover God’s love for them, and that all of us being ordained together be precisely that instrument of God’s love, a bridge between man and God, to help people discover peace and love in their lives,” he said.

Father Sarraf said that a priest is supposed to help “everyone,” not just Catholics or Christians.

“It’s the example we see of Our Lord in the Gospel. Even though his main mission was to the Jews, he was open to everyone, and the message of the priest, the Christian message, is not only for a few but for everyone,” he said.

“The priest should welcome everyone and try to bring anyone he comes in touch with to discover God’s love and how he or she can correspond to that love,” he added.

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