“If I had to choose anyone to propose for the emulation of others – especially for those who don’t think often about the Catholic Church and Her priests – whom should I have chosen, besides Fr. Walker?”
These are just some of the thoughts and reflections offered by a friend of Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, whose funeral is today.
Fr. Walker, associate pastor of Mater Misericordiae Mission Church in Phoenix, Arizona, was shot and killed on 11 June when a burglar entered the parish residence. The pastor, Fr. Joseph Terra, FSSP, was badly beaten by the intruder, but is recovering. Both priests are members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.
Meanwhile, police have arrested Gary Michael Moran, 54, in connection with the attack.
A funeral Mass for Fr. Walker will take place today in Sacred Heart Church in Paxico, Kansas, followed by his burial in Mount Calvary Cemetery in St. Mary’s.
Jonathan Arrington, adjunct professor at Thomas More College in Rome, first met Kenneth Walker in 2008 during a retreat at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, as he was preparing to apply for entrance into the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
Arrington recounts his first meeting with the seminarian known then simply as “Kenny”: “The first memory I have of him is of a young man kneeling before Our Lord’s Eucharistic Presence. The immediately subsequent memory is of one who played soccer with vigor and competitively, but also with joy and a smile. After I was accepted to the same seminary where he was already a seminarian, I spent about two years around him. I would join him and other seminarians to pray the rosary after dinner, though this never impeded us from a few strenuous games of ping-pong!”
“My most vivid memories,” he continued, “are of him serving at Mass with his unique facial expression: He was intent on the Sacred Mysteries, but his face did not betray a ‘grumpy seriousness,’ rather a solemn yet sober joy at being close to Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice. He had the same face when we prayed the Divine Office.”
Upon receiving word that Fr. Walker had been murdered, Arrington recalled: “My thoughts and emotions were the same that everyone had: is this possible? why? why him who was so innocent, pure, joyful and holy?”
“The following day my thoughts, as I prepared to leave for work and study, were many and varied, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything else in prayer – so I decided to commit to words what inexpressible things were in my heart. Afterwards, there was a certain peace. If one is to have Christian hope in the salvation of the just, what was there to fear? If Christ could have chosen anyone to be one of His special heavenly soldiers, why not Kenny Walker? If I had to choose anyone to propose for the emulation of others – especially for those who don’t think often about the Catholic Church and Her priests – whom should I have chosen, besides Fr. Walker? Finally, and perhaps most selfishly, if I myself needed a reminder of my celestial goal, the final end of man, the virtuous joy of living that is so reminiscent of Fulton Sheen, whose example would be better to remember than that of Father Kenneth Walker?”
“I cry still when I remember the blissful times spent in Fr. Walker’s presence,” he said, “but I also joyfully hope that he is enjoying the most blissful gift possible, eternal beatitude.”
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei: requiescat in pace!