Young priest's murder shocks, grieves Arizona community

Young priest's murder shocks, grieves Arizona community

A 28-year-old priest was shot and killed, and another critically wounded, at a Catholic church in Phoenix Wednesday night.

The Diocese of Phoenix released a statement early Thursday morning identifying the slain priest as Father Kenneth Walker, the associate pastor at the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission located near the Arizona state capitol.

The pastor, Father Joseph Terra, 56, is in critical but stable condition. Both priests belong to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

“We are stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic assault perpetrated last night against Fr. Joseph Terra and Fr. Kenneth Walker,” the statement said. “We ask that people offer prayers for both priests, the religious community, their families and the parish.”

Police responded to a burglary call from Father Terra shortly after 9 p.m. at 16th Avenue and Monroe Street at the Mater Misericordiae Mission, according to Arizona Central.

“Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace,” the diocese said.

Requiem Masses will be offered for Fr. Walker on Monday, June 16.


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Archbishop José H. Gomez

As I write, I’ve just read the sad news that 90 Christians have been kidnapped from two villages in Syria. Of course we were all shocked earlier this month by the news that 21 Coptic Christians were executed in Syria — killed, as Pope Francis said, “for the mere fact of being Christians.” 

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