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Fr. Steven Labat, young priest of the diocese of Paris, found dead in Sinai

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Bérengère de Portzamparc - published on 05/12/22

The 32-year-old priest was hiking on Saturday, May 7, in the mountains of Sinai in Egypt when he most likely was the victim of a fatal fall.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Steven Labat, our Egyptian priest brother. Steven’s body was found by security forces in the mountains of the Sinai Peninsula, where he was likely the victim of a fatal fall,” the Emmanuel Community said on its website on Monday, May 9.

He was supposed to return to Cairo on Friday evening, and after a missing persons report from his parish to the Egyptian police, they found the body of the 32-year-old priest on Saturday, May 7, in the mountains of Sinai in Egypt, where he had gone alone. He is thought to have fallen about 490 feet when he was a few yards from the top of Mount St. Catherine, just opposite Mount Sinai.

The announcement of his death caused great emotion in the young Emmanuel Community in Cairo, as well as in the diocese of Paris where Steven had spent part of his seminary years. An artist and singer, Stefan Labat had performed in a musical about Saint Therese of Lisieux in August 2020, and was ordained a priest at the church of Saint Sulpice in Paris by Archbishop Aupetit on June 26, 2021.

A year of study of the Melkite rite in Cairo

Born in 1990 in Montreal (Canada) to a Lebanese family, Steven lived in Egypt for many years and was a priest of the Emmanuel Community. During his diaconal year, he was serving in the parish of Saint Joseph des Nations (Paris), and after his ordination he had been sent for a year of study in Cairo, in order to familiarize himself with his original rite (the Melkite rite) at a parish of the Roman Catholic Church in Cairo. He was to return to France in September to the Emmanuel parish of Saint Nicolas des Champs, where he had spent some years during his seminary studies.

His funeral was celebrated at noon on Tuesday, May 10, at the Basilica of Cairo, in the Heliopolis district, and was broadcast live on the Internet. In Paris, a Mass in his memory will be celebrated in the church of St. Nicolas des Champs, on Saturday, May 21 at 2:30 p.m., presided over by Bishop Philippe Marsset, auxiliary bishop of Paris, together with Father Henri-Marie Mottin, head of the clerical association of the Emmanuel Community, who will concelebrate.

A few weeks before his ordination, Steven Labat called for prayers for vocations and for young people to hear God’s voice.

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