On the night of June 11, 2014, Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, age 28, was shot to death in an apparent robbery attempt in his own rectory at Mater Misericordiae Mission in Phoenix, Arizona. The pastor, Fr. Joseph Terra, FSSP, was severely beaten but thanks be to God, survived the attack.
According to the Vicar General of the Phoenix diocese, Fr. Terra was able to administer the Last Rites to Father Walker. Father Walker’s sister Sasha said that her family is able to smile through their tears because “he had Last Rites, and it gives us so much peace knowing that he was able to have those special graces.”
Who was Father Walker? He was ordained just 2 years ago by His Excellency Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz. Parishoners described Father Walker as a “sweet, gentle man,” “a young bright face almost angelic disposition” with “complete faithfulness to the Church.” The two priests at the Mission were often seen sitting on either side of the altar chanting Latin prayers. They prayed outside abortion clinics every week.
Both Fr. Walker and Fr. Terra were “incredibly devout and focused on their mission as priests of the Church.”
Fr. Walker was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, one of 11 children.His family’s life changed when they came across a book entitled, The Incredible Catholic Mass, which introduced them for the first time to the Latin Mass. On his own initiative, Father taught himself Latin and became an altar server at an FSSP apostolate in Scranton, PA. He attended Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Ontario and then entered the FSSP seminary.
The Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Very Rev. John Berg, said:
“In an age where we seem so centered upon ‘clerical stars’ and are constantly searching for the ‘newest approach to evangelization,’ the life of our confrere gave witness to one of the greatest priestly virtues, a quiet and consistent strength, which is a mark of the Good Shepherd who watches vigilantly over His flock in season and out of season.”
We should appropriately end with Father Walker’s own words, written on his FSSP application:
God, in His infinite love, desires all men to be saved and so achieve their true end. Along with the Church, then, I am deeply grieved by these errors concerning the nature and dignity of man accepted by so many people in the world, which deviate them from their supernatural end. In full view of the situation in the world, then, the only vocation that I could be satisfied with, as a work, would be one that would be dedicated to bringing people to salvation in whatever way God wills for me to do so.
Mater Misericordiae, Ora pro nobis
Requiescat in Pace, dear Father.