After Phoenix attack, priests to focus on forgiveness

| June 14, 2014

Today and Sunday, some of the Valley's Catholics will file into pews, seeking the kind of comfort they can only find in community.

Across the city, priests who would normally compose homilies about Father's Day and the mystery of faith celebrated on Trinity Sunday will instead talk about the shooting death of one priest and the beating of another on Wednesday night.

Father Kenneth Walker, 28, was shot and killed in the rectory of Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission, the small church he served near downtown Phoenix. Though badly beaten, Father Joseph Terra, 56, the senior pastor, administered the Last Rites to Walker.

Fifteen times a week, the two men celebrated Masses in Latin, a traditional form revered for its beauty but which has fallen in and out of favor since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council in 1965.

Police said officers answered a 911 call from Terra reporting a burglary at the church, near 16th Avenue and Monroe Street, at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. They found Walker with at least one gunshot wound and Terra in serious condition. No arrests have been made.

Since news of the attack broke, parishioners have been dropping off flowers, cards, notes and balloons at the mission, creating a makeshift memorial to Walker. The Valley's priests have spent their quiet moments praying to the Holy Spirit for the right words to bring healing, so that their messages will be blessed with grace sufficient to the magnitude of the task.

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Category: Church Security

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