The Diocese of Phoenix is “stunned and deeply saddened” about the “tragic assault” on a downtown Phoenix church that took the life of one priest and left a second priest critically injured.
Father Kenneth Walker, 28, died of a gunshot wound. Father Joseph Terra, 56, survived the June 11 attack and remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition.
“The police are still gathering information and trying to sort through the details of this senseless act of violence,” the diocese said in a statement. “We ask that people offer prayers for both priests, the religious community, their families and the parish.”
The priests, members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, served at Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission, where they were attacked during a nighttime burglary. Father Terra served the Diocese of Dallas as pastor of Mater Dei Parish from 2005 to 2009.
In a statement released by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter this morning, Fr. Terra’s morale was "remarkably strong and he was communicating. He has head injuries and some a number of broken bones. He will have a long recovery, but his life is not in danger and he should have a full recovery. We are grateful to God and the many prayers that have been offered."
Bishop Kevin Farrell has released the following statement on the tragedy:
Of course, I am shocked and saddened by the news of the attack of Father Joseph Terra and Father Kenneth Walker in Phoenix. Father Terra, a loved and respected pastor at Mater Dei for five years, was particularly admired for his homilies and compassionate pastoral care. He was instrumental in the founding of Mater Dei Parish in Irving and his dedication and hard work are both remembered and appreciated. We pray for his rapid and complete recovery and for the repose of the soul of Father Walker. I ask all to join us in praying for an end to senseless violence and a greater respect for life.
Pictured: Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP (L), Fr. Joseph Terra, FSSP (R)