Rarely Found in This Valley of Tears

Fr. Walker celebrates a first Mass at the seminary

This Ember week of Pentecost marks the 5th anniversary of the death of Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP. He died on June 11th, 2014, which in that year was, like today, an Ember Wednesday. Just 28 years old and 2 years a priest, Fr. Walker was shot and killed during a tragic incident at the rectory of Mater Misericordiae Mission, our apostolate in Phoenix where he served as assistant pastor. The pastor, Fr. Joseph Terra, was badly beaten, but despite his injuries selflessly administered Last Rites to Fr. Walker.

In his letter following the tragedy, then-Superior General Fr. John Berg wrote eloquently of the life and virtues of the young priest:

He has been described by the parishioners he served in the same manner that he would be by his confreres; he was earnest; he was persevering; he was ready first to serve; nothing ever seemed to inconvenience him. Our Lord’s description of Nathaniel perhaps fits him best: he was a man without guile. He will perhaps be remembered as an example to us as confreres more for what he did not say; one would be hard pressed to find anyone who ever heard him complain or speak badly about anyone. As a former professor of Fr. Walker in the seminary, and as superior, I also knew him as one who took correction well; never pridefully objected; and sincerely sought to improve in all areas of formation both as a seminarian and later as a priest.

In such tragic circumstances I realize that it can be easy to fall into hyperbole, but there was an innocence to Fr. Walker which is rarely found in this valley of tears.

Fr. Walker’s grave at the seminary

The following Sunday, like this year, was Father’s Day. The two events considered together certainly form an apt reflection as we celebrate both natural and spiritual fatherhood this Sunday, the love that is the source and summit of both, and the great and heroic cost that both sometimes entail. Please continue to pray for the soul of Fr. Walker and for his family, friends, parishioners and brother priests who still grieve his loss, as we all hold to the lively hope that such a humble and holy soul may find his place among the angels. +

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei, Dómine: et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen.

June 12, 2019