The following comes from a June 12 report on AZ Central.
To read the Feb. 21 California Catholic Daily story on Mater Miseridordiae, click here.
Phoenix police collected physical evidence from the Catholic church where one priest was killed and another critically injured Wednesday night, but investigators are desperately seeking more information about the crimes, Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia said at a Thursday news conference.
Garcia was joined by politicians and Catholic leaders who each asked for the public’s continued support of the victims and for information that could help investigators solve the crime.
“We need our community to step forward,” Garcia said. “If you saw anything, please call the Phoenix Police Department.”
Father Kenneth Walker, 28, was shot and killed and Father Joseph Terra was wounded at a Catholic church Wednesday night near the state Capitol, a Phoenix police spokesman said.
Police were responding to a burglary call shortly after 9 p.m. near 16th Avenue and Monroe Street at the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission, Sgt. Steve Martos said.
At the news conference, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton voiced his disbelief that someone could commit such a crime inside a church.
“Every American should feel safe in a house of worship,” Stanton said.
Father Fred Adamson, speaking on behalf of the Diocese of Phoenix at the news conference, said the Catholic community places trust in the Lord to bring the family of Walker healing and comfort.
The diocese released a statement early Thursday morning identifying the slain priest as Walker, who is listed as associate pastor at the Mother of Mercy Mission.
Terra, the pastor, was identified as the priest who survived but remained in critical but stable condition, according to the statement.
Father David Sanfilippo, vicar general at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, said that he had spoken to Terra on Thursday morning and that Terra told him it is all in the hands of God.
“We are stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic assault perpetrated last night against Fr. Joseph Terra and Fr. Kenneth Walker, two religious order priests who belong to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter,” the statement said.
Police said Terra, 56, was “physically harmed” but not stabbed or shot.
Terra called 911, police said.
Parishioners from Mother of Mercy Mission attended Mass on Thursday morning at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, where they mourned the loss of their priest. They said that the news of his death and Terra’s injuries shocked the close-knit community, many of whom go to Mass daily at the mission.
Kirsten Duarte, a parishioner at Mother of Mercy Mission, said she knew Walker well.
“He was very kind, very sweet and a little quirky,” Duarte said. “It’s a great loss for the community.”
Parishioners said that they wanted to be at Terra’s side for his recovery, and said that he had always been there for them in times of need.
Many said that both priests had visited their homes for dinner and other occasions, and said they both dedicated their lives to serving the community.
During the Mass, Father Alonso Saenz struggled to find words to describe the loss, and broke down in tears for his fellow priests.
Saenz said the night was very difficult, mostly spent in the hospital. He said that he had given the Apostolic Blessing to Walker when he died, and asked the community for prayers for Walker’s soul and for Terra’s recovery.
Parishioners from St. Catherine of Siena shared in the grief, and said they wanted to show their support for the grieving church members.
“My daughter goes to St. Catherine’s Catholic School, and when I heard what happened, I woke her up to come to Mass and pay our respects,” said Donna Rodriguez, a parishioner at St. Catherine of Siena. “We’re here to show our support for the church. This hit us really hard, it’s a sad day for the Catholic Church.”
David Stender was the Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus chapter in the area, and said that he and the community will remember Walker by his acts of charity, especially for the homeless.
“He really helped out the community,” Stender said. “He would open up the church to the homeless so they could come in when the weather was bad.”
Stender stressed that for parishioners at Mother of Mercy Mission, life revolved around the church, and many members attended the services every day.
“We really feel like one large family, and they are the leaders of that family,” Stender said.
While Stender said he and his community were devastated at the loss, he hoped he would find comfort remembering the life that Walker lived.
Marsha Livingston worked as the bookkeeper at Mater Misericordiae Mission and her husband knew Walker through the Knights of Columbus. On Thursday morning, she could not wrap her head around the fact that Walker had died, she said.
Livingston saw Walker a few times each week when she was at the church, and she said he was “just a wonderful young man.” Livingston said Walker was very involved with the children at the church and was very loved by those who attended his church.
“He was very dedicated to Christ, his church and to his parishioners,” she said.
Livingston described Walker as being warm and generous. She said the last thing he told her when she saw him Monday, June 9, was “humility is everything.”
“He gets to see Jesus today, and that’s the only good thing about today,” she said.
A car that police were seeking in connection with the attack was found at 17th Avenue and Taylor Street, about four blocks north of the church, Martos said. It was spotted by 12 News reporter Chris Williams, who alerted police.
The car was unoccupied when it was found, and Martos said no suspects have been arrested.
Walker was an ordained priest in the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. He graduated from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, a Catholic seminary located in Ontario, Canada, where he studied from 2003 to 2005. Walker was one of the first graduates to be ordained into priesthood. He was ordained in 2012 in Nebraska, according to information from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy.
A spokesman for Our Lady Seat of Wisdom said the entire school was both shocked and saddened by the news of his death.
Sanfilippo said that the loss has been very difficult for fellow clergy, and said they are grateful for the people of the parish who have reached out in support.
“It is all in the hands of God,” Sanfilippo said. “Even in all of this sadness, we are promised resurrection.”
Sanfilippo said he hopes the people responsible will turn themselves in.
“For those who seek God’s forgiveness, the Lord is merciful,” Sanfilippo said.
Though police initially responded to a burglary call, a spokesman said Thursday morning that investigators do not know the true nature of the encounter.
Luigi Baratta, a member of the Knights of Columbus, came to the building on Thursday as police were investigating and said Walker started the Knights of Columbus chapter at Mother of Mercy Mission and served to aid those in the area.
“It’s a tragedy, he was such a young priest,” Baratta said. “It’s just a tragedy.”
In a statement released by the Arizona Ecumenical Council, church members were asked to remember Walker, Terra and the diocese in their prayers.
“May it please our God to bring healing again to a community torn apart by this violent tragedy,” the statement read.
The mission was established by Bishop Thomas Olmsted in 2005 to provide Latin Mass to the faithful in Arizona.
The mission previously held services at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. Its current location, west of downtown Phoenix, was dedicated in December 2010.
More from Fox News on June 12:
Associate Pastor Father Kenneth Walker was 28 years-old. He was the middle of eleven children, six boys, and five girls and was born in Poughkeepsie, New York….
Father Walker’s path to the priesthood started in Tennessee where his family owned some land and where they visited to build a log cabin.
The family happened upon a book about the Catholic Mass in a bookstore there, and they were intrigued.
Father Walker began learning latin, and his family moved to rural Pennsylvania near Scranton. He attended church schools and entered the seminary. In 2012 e was ordained as a priest, but Wednesday night his service was cut short.
To read entire Fox News story, click here.
Is this anti-clericalism taken to the extreme? Let’s pray that the murderer(s) is/are found and prosecuted. If not, other church haters will be emboldened, then no priest, bishop or religious is safe.
Requiem aeternam dona ei (Pater Walker), Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. And may God heal and strengthen Fr. Terra for the days to come.
Amen! Thanks Anne T.
I feel horribly saddened by this news. Its hard to take. This is a tragedy.
Horrible. Absolutely horrible. If this is motivated by mental illness, it calls us to prayer. If this is motivated by hatred for the catholic church, it calls us to prayer. If this is motivated by a hatred for traditional catholicism, it calls us to prayer. If this is motivated by poverty or greed, it calls us to prayer. Horrible. Our response must be one of prayer, and I thank these parishoners for offering such a wonderful witness to that call.
Self described YFC,
Just who do you think you are fooling?
May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
Viva Cristo Rey!
Yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc
I am so terribly sad and shocked at this loss! The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is a beautiful religious order, which is dedicated to the Tridentine Mass! It is so sad, that some of their churches are in run-down areas of cities– perhaps due to financial hardships. This is also a burden, for Tridentine Mass-loving parishioners! I think some of these parishes ought to hire security guards! Just remember, when many of us were young, the Latin Mass was the ONLY Mass, and Catholic churches in good and decent areas, existed all over the world! Also, in years past, no one would ignorantly refer to Mass at a Catholic church, as a “service,” they would properly refer to it as a “Mass!” Everyone, worldwide, used to know this simple fact! Oh, my heart goes out to the grieving people, due to this terrible, terrible crime!
May Father Walker’s soul rest in peace! It was NOT a gun that killed him, it was the person behind it. I am sure the anti-gun lobby will have a field day with this. Why did it occur? Because there is hardly any morality taught in the schools, and the families do not teach it either. By removing religion from society, society has replaced this vacuum with unmitigated and immoral pleasure.
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc? Come on Father Karl, you know that is bad logic. You are wrong in your logic – it was the bullet from the gun that was shot by the person behind it that killed the priest. If I stab someone, is it the knife that kills them or the person with the knife? It was the person with the knife!
Father Karl you are correct, it takes a person to kill another no matter what the weapon!
Take away guns, Bob One, and those who choose to kill will and do find other means. Fr. Karl’s logic is not faulty. He rather chooses to acknowledge human dignity by acknowledging free will.
Sadly, an increasing amount of folks choose to dismiss the reality of free will, seeking to lay blame on anything else but the individual who can say yes or no.
Where this mission is located is adjacent to a dangerous crime-ridden area of Phoenix, and I just don’t know why it was chosen to be placed here, except perhaps the FSSP, thought it would be good to be near the Capitol where a lot of workers could attend Mass. I have always thought it was a very rough area, especially at night, with a vulnerability to dangerous crime; unfortunately we never expected this.. Let us pray for Frwalker and the parish.
Steve that’s what I was wondering. It must be a bad area. We have many of good traditional parishes in bad areas. I think that our priests in those kind of areas should be armed as well. They need to protect them selves. This young man was not only a priest but also a son, a brother etc, whom I’,m sure need our prayers very much.
God bless this parish, our prayers are with you all. God bless Father, may be rest in peace. God heal Father Terra
Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, Requiescat in Pace.
I haven’t seen or heard of this news of the murder of a Catholic priest in any of the San Diego media. But if there is even a rumor of any misconduct by a priest, it becomes headline news.
We love our priests and such a terrible loss affects all of us! I will remember this dear soul and his congregation tonight in Adoration. Pray also for the Bishop of N.Iraq and the priests and other Christians fleeing for their lives. Dark forces are indeed at work. Mary, pray for us!
Yes please Dana pray for him and His family and for Father Terra. Our family was blessed to have met this priest back when he was just a deacon. It was a short brief meeting, I don’t remember much about him but I know that he was young.
I am still shaken by this tragedy. I was reflecting and was reminded of St. John the Baptist. He came to baptize people and share the good news of Jesus, just so he would end up beheaded. This Christian life is not an easy one. Its hard to understand many things. That poor lost soul, so desperate enough to kill, I pray that he or they be caught soon and that conversions come out of all this mess. We feel this loss. We pray for more miracles. Jesus Mercy! Amen
It is so sad, that the Vatican no longer truly respects their own Tridentine Mass, and pre-Vatican II Church! They try to politically marginalize it as much as possible! Their Vatican II “Novus Ordo Missae” flourishes in big parishes in good areas, and good Catholics are taught to disdain their own Tridentine Mass, and avoid it!! Worse yet, when once-thriving parishes in good areas are closed due to dwindling numbers of worshippers, these good churches just get sold, and are either renovated or torn down, and replaced by a modern secular building. Meanwhile, former parishioners suffer terrible heartaches, and cry in pain! These churches should be given to Tridentine Mass Catholics! It is so sad, and so wrongful, for good priests and parishioners devoted to the Tridentine Mass, to be financially forced to seek out a solution, such as buying an old Protestant church in a dangerous, run-down area, and renovating it, as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter did, in Phoenix! This has happened in many similar places! My family and I, for one example, are too scared, along with others, to go to something like Christmas Midnight Mass, in such situations! There must be also many elderly people, or parents with babies and young children, who are scared away from attending the Latin Tridentine Mass, due to such potentially dangerous situations! So tragic!
There are not remotely enough TLM Catholics that could absorb the number of closed parish churches. Heck, there’s not even enough Novus Ordo folks to fill some of them. Neither could the TLM Catholics afford the churches, and the dioceses can hardly afford to give them away – that’s why they are closed in the first place, the buildings just become underutilized assets. TLM groups generally can hardly make use of a 1,000 seat building. The groups are just too small. Mater Misericordiae Mission seats about 200 people. BTW, 120+ families belong to Mater Misericordiae. None of them are scaredy cats who see crying in pain as a viable life choice.
It does not matter which form of the Mass a priest celebrates; the murder of Fr. Walker means there is one less priest to lead us to holiness and salvation. May the Holy Trinity welcome Fr. Walker to heaven!
Father Kenneth Walker is a CATHOLIC PRIEST! He is not a “latin mass priest” — there is no such designation in the Church. This is no time for your divisive agenda. Whomever wrote that headline should be ashamed of themselves.
Lord help us.
“R.B. Rodda”: It is your response that is ignorant. Fr. Walker identified himself as a priest solely devoted to the Traditional sacraments of the Church. It is clear from your prior blogs that you are not friend of Catholic Tradition, and the unequivocal ethical and moral demands that it continues. The true courage of all priests and religious devoted to sacraments in the “extraordinary” form is something that is often buried in comments such as yours (i.e., “but they are Catholic priests/religious, . . .”) But are there real differences here, as the revolutionaries of Vatican II are busy trying to tear down the centuries old institution and rebuild it in the fashion of the liberal Democratic Party. No, there will never be approval of what liberals want: homosexual sexual freedom, and freedom regarding sexual ethics, generally; the right to have abortions; women priests; the need to restrain human behavior to follow moral commandments, all of that. God Bless, Fr. Walker, and God forgive his murderer. And, Jesus grant strength and growth to the FSSP and to all Traditional orders (and reconciliation with the SSPX).
Almost on the same day of Fr. Walker’s murder, another Cathoic priest was
attacked by a tranisent at St. Catherines of Siena in Burlingame, CA Thankfully, he was not killed by the vicious attack. Please pray for the protection of our clergy and our Pope.
Please have respect when referring to a priest. Terra is not just Terra, he is Father Terra, priest. Father Terra and Father Walker were from the Fraternity of Saint Peter. Please pray for the repose of Father Walker and the recovery of Father Terra.