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Priest Killed In Phoenix Had Ties To Scranton

SCRANTON — Catholics across the country are reeling after a priest was killed, another brutally beaten in an attack at a church in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this week.

The priest who was killed, Fr. Kenneth Walker, was a member of an exclusive order of priests partly because of the influences from a church in Scranton.

St. Michael’s Church in west Scranton is one of the only churches in our area that celebrates the traditional Latin Catholic mass. This was once the home church for Fr. Kenneth Walker before he was ordained.

The shockwaves from his murder on Wednesday in Phoenix are still being felt here in Lackawanna County.

More than 2,000 miles from Lackawanna County at Mother of Mercy Mission in Phoenix, Arizona Wednesday night, an apparent armed robbery ended with one priest shot to death another brutally beaten.

The priest who lost his life was only ordained a year ago: 28-year-old Fr. Kenneth Walker. He was a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an exclusive order of priests who celebrate the traditional Latin Catholic mass. The order’s U.S. headquarters are in Lackawanna County.

The priest who runs the headquarters near Moscow made an emergency trip to Phoenix after hearing of Fr. Walker’s murder.

Parishioners at the parish in Phoenix have been mourning since Wednesday.

“We all ask the question today, ‘why.’ Very relevant question is, ‘who?’ Who do we depend on in this moment.”

Other parishioners, here in Lackawanna County, are mourning, too. Fr. Walker and his family often attended traditional Latin mass at St. Michael’s church in west Scranton.

Parishioners we talked to told us Fr. Walker and his family traveled here from Pike County where they lived for several years when Walker was a teenager.

The crime that took his life is just as shocking and inexplicable to folks thousands of miles away.

“There’s no evidence that this happened because they were priests. It could well have happened because there was someone who was… perhaps on drugs, or in some other way. It seems to have been a robbery from what we know,” said Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix.

Police in Phoenix do not yet have any suspects in what appears to be a botched armed robbery at Fr. Walker’s parish.

Officials from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Lackawanna County will be in Phoenix on Fr. Walker’s behalf for the next few days.


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