Last Thursday my parish was one of many who celebrated a Requiem masses for the repose of the soul of Fr.Kenneth Walker, FSSP.
Last year on June 11th, Fr. Walker was shot to death in the rectory of Mater Misericordiae in Pheonix, Arizona. Fr. Joseph Terra was brutally beaten. Even if you are aware of the event, read this article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2015/06/11/phoenix-priest-joseph-terra-kenneth-walker-anniversary-attack-fatal/71050238/ (I came across this link to an Arizona news site on www.traditionalcatholicpriest.com. I was surprised and impressed at the factual content of the interview. The reporter, whoever he is, is most respectful towards Fr.Terra. I was pleased to see this – because the Lord only knows what grief Fr.Terra has suffered over the last year. He was good enough to agree to an interview – despite his hesitancy. A nasty reporter is not what he needed.)
The news spread quickly to every home of my own FSSP parish. It brought a solemn sorrow to us all, for Fr. Walker was one of our own. The brutality of evil was brought home to us that day. Our assistant priest was classmates with Fr. Walker, I remember my mom giving her condolences to him, and he was most grateful. They were friends, classmates for seven years at the seminary, they were ordained as priests together. It was shocking and saddening for us all to hear what had happened.
The most controversy topic about the event was probably the fact that Fr. Walker was shot with Fr. Terra’s gun. If you read the article I linked to, you would hear from Fr. Terra how this occurred. I remember reading an article online following the attack, written by some liberal feminist against guns, going on about how priests shouldn’t have guns anyways, bad-mouthing Fr.Terra. It infuriated me, I had to stop reading the ignorant comments underneath it. For starters, to bash a priest is sinful. Secondly, a man who has gone through that trauma does not need such unkindness thrust towards him. Thirdly, the attack did not occur because of Fr. Terra’s gun. Fr. Terra reached for his gun as a last resort of survival after he was struck repeatedly with a metal bar, had half his face smashed in, and a finger mangled so badly it prevented him from pulling the trigger. To think of the pain and sorrow Fr. Terra has gone through in the past year brings tears to my eyes – prayer is the only thing Fr.Terra needs from us, not judgement or scorn. He witnessed his friend’s murder, and lives to remember. Yet after this traumatic tragedy, he carries on his mission to work for the salvation of souls, to carry out God’s will – he is truly a soldier for Christ. He has my utmost respect.
Our Lord must have a mission for Fr.Walker to accomplish in heaven to take him away so suddenly. His death has brought light to the traditional latin mass across the world, it has brought us a greater sense of our own immortality, has given us the opportunity to put Christian Charity into practise by praying for those who wrong us (it may be hard to pray for his murderer, but this is exactly what our Christ asks us to do). God draws the good out of every situation. He is both just and merciful, calling each of us to greater heights of holiness each and every day.
Both Fr. Walker & Fr. Terra are examples of the soldiers we are all called to be. Remember to pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Kenneth Walker, as well as for his intercession in obtaining holiness, and to pray for Fr. Joseph Terra, as he continues his fight for Christ and His Church.
Sorrowful Heart of Mary, Pray for us.