Priest shot dead at Phoenix church

One priest was killed and another critically injured in a shooting at a Catholic church in Phoenix on Wednesday night.

A burglary call came in at about 9 p.m. from Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission, Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos said.

Police found both priests critically injured. Father Kenneth Walker, 29, assistant pastor at Mater Misericordiae, had gunshot wounds and later died at the hospital.  

Father Joseph Terra, pastor, is in critical, but stable condition. USA Today is reporting Terra, 58, was "physically harmed," but not stabbed or shot, according to authorities. Police said Terra called 911.

The attack took place inside the priest’s living quarters, not inside the church sanctuary, Martos said.

A car missing from the scene was found nearby, but no suspects currently have been found.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix made the following statement on their website Thursday morning:

“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. Father Walker’s life was taken. Father Terra remains in critical condition but stable. The reported attack occurred at Mater Misericordiae Mission in Phoenix. The police are still gathering information and trying to sort through the details of this senseless act of violence. We ask that people offer prayers for both priests, the religious community, their families and the parish. Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.”

Rorate Caeli blog reports that Father Kenneth Walker was born near Poughkeepsie in upstate New York. He is the middle of 11 children — six boys and five girls.

The Walker family first heard about the traditional Latin Mass while living in Tennessee, and Father Walker began learning Latin on his own initiative. The family eventually moved to rural Pennsylvania near Scranton in order to attend a church where the Latin Mass was celebrated. Father Walker became an altar server there.

He eventually attended Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom Academy in Ontario and afterward entered the seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in May 2012.

A requiem Mass will be offered for Father Walker on Monday, June 16, according to Catholic News Agency.