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Priest killed in downtown Phoenix; another priest badly beaten

The Catholic community in Phoenix, Arizona has suffered the loss of one man of God while a second priest was critically injured. Both priest are of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and "were sent to Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission" in 2010 according to a June 13, 2014 article in the Arizona Republic. Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Phoenix Diocese realized there were parishioners who preferred the "Traditional Latin Mass", and brought the fraternity to Phoenix in 2005 to meet that need.

Eight new priests takes their vows during an ordination at the Freisinger Dom cathedral on June 29, 2013 in Freising, Germany.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Assistant Pastor, Father Kenneth Walker (only 28 years of age and ordained in 2012) was shot and killed by intruder(s) who broke into the mission and the priests living quarters. The mission’s pastor, Father Joseph Terra is 56 years of age and was badly beaten. He remains in the hospital in critical condition. Father Terra managed to call 911 on his cell phone, which probably saved his life.

Both men worked diligently to help the poor and homeless at the mission in a poor neighborhood that is highly transient and dangerous, even in daytime hours. The priests order chose to forego building the mission in a comfortable, safe neighborhood but located it instead in a "neighborhood desperately in need of good shepherds." They opened their doors to the homeless and dedicated themselves to helping others. The Arizona Republic editorial further stated that "[t]he dedication of clergy and lay ministers at outreach missions like the Mother of Mercy Mission stands out like an ancient beacon. Another Phoenix priest, Father John Lankeit said, "It's almost just like a spit in the face to a lot of Catholic people...both men dedicated themselves 'to reverence and beauty, noble simplicity.'"

Police suspect burglary as a motive for the murder and assault case, but remain unsure who is responsible for the crime. The investigation continues and police ask any witnesses or persons to please come forward with information.

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