Phoenix priest expected to make ‘full recovery’ after church attack

Father Kenneth Walker, left, and Father Joseph Terra perform a baptism ceremony in Phoenix. Terra is expected to recover from a recent attack in which Walker was killed.
(The Catholic Sun / Associated Press)

A priest who was seriously hurt in an attack at a Catholic church in Phoenix that left another priest dead is expected to make a “full recovery,” church officials said Sunday.

Father Joseph Terra, 56, was initially hospitalized in critical condition after the Thursday attack at the rectory attached to the Mater Misericordiae Mission in downtown Phoenix.

Terra was assaulted, officials said, and Father Kenneth Walker, 28, was fatally shot by an unknown assailant or assailants. Both priests belonged to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.


In a notice for a public viewing for Walker on Sunday evening, church officials said Terra successfully underwent surgery and was moved out of an intensive care unit Saturday evening.

“Fr. Terra is expected to make a full recovery and will most likely remain as pastor of Mater Misercordiae Mission,” the notice said. “He will need some time for recuperation and may spend part of the summer convalescing out-of-town.”

A requiem Mass for Walker will be celebrated Monday morning at St. Catherine’s in Phoenix, church officials said, adding that a funeral for Walker was expected to be held near Maple Hill, Kan., where his parents live. Church officials said his family “has shown great faith and strength in the midst of this loss.”

Police have released a limited description of one of the assailants, describing him only as a 40-year-old white male.

Investigators haven’t nailed down a possible motive for the attack.

The original 911 call from Terra came in as a robbery, but Police Chief Daniel Garcia told reporters late last week that it was too early in the investigation to confirm that was the reason for the breakin.

Authorities said a garage door at the church was open and that one of the cars, a 2003 Mazda, had been taken. It was recovered about four blocks away.


Times staff writer Cindy Carcamo contributed to this report.

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