By REY FLORES
“O God, Thou didst raise Thy servant Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, according to the Order of Melchisedech, giving him the sublime power to offer the Eternal Sacrifice, to bring the Body and Blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ down upon the altar, and to absolve the sins of men in Thine own holy Name. We beseech Thee to reward his faithfulness and to forget his faults, admitting him speedily into Thy holy presence, there to enjoy forever the recompense of his labors. This we ask through Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord. Amen.”
By the time you read this, the late Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, will already have been buried, after a long and tragic week and a half for Catholics across America. In the meantime, Fr. Joseph Terra, FSSP, is in continued need of our ongoing prayers for his recovery from this tragic incident which took Fr. Walker’s life and left Fr. Terra in pretty bad shape after the attack at Mater Misericordiae in Phoenix on the night of June 11. Fr. Terra was the pastor of that parish, and Fr. Walker was the associate pastor.
As I am a member of an FSSP (Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri) parish, I know how Fr. Walker’s death has touched us all a great deal. One of our priests at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Va., had been a personal friend of Fr. Walker’s, having attended seminary with him and been ordained at the same time, a couple of years ago.
While an alleged perpetrator of this terrible crime has been apprehended, it still leaves us with a sense of uneasiness — several churches have been putting security measures in place around their buildings and property.
No matter how many security measures are put in place, we are all ultimately in God’s hands and only He knows what His will is. We must always trust in Him, though we may not understand why things happen the way they do sometimes.
While Fr. Walker’s actual funeral Mass took place in Kansas on Friday, June 20, many, many funeral Masses have been held by his brother FSSP priests across the country since his death.
In the midst of such tragic events, Daniel Heenan and Zachary Akers, both 2005 graduates of Christendom College, became Fathers Heenan and Akers, FSSP, at a Traditional Ordination at St. John the Apostle Church in Leesburg, Va., celebrated Saturday, June 14. Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., ordained them.
This was a bittersweet event and probably had a larger turnout because of Fr. Walker’s death. My family and I had already planned on attending the Ordination, but it was that much more important for us to be there to show support not only of the newly ordained priests, but to pay honor to all of the courageous men who have chosen the priesthood, especially in this increasingly anti-Catholic climate we are living in.
The event itself was a glorious and a historical one as well. We all know how difficult it has been to get all of the hierarchy in the United States to abide by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, so for the Diocese of Arlington, Va., which suffered from a Traditional Latin Mass drought from 1974 until 2006, this Traditional Ordination was pretty amazing.
Kenneth Wolfe pointed out in the Rorate Caeli blog that there are several “firsts” happening in this diocese in regard to the Traditional Latin Mass. This Traditional Ordination is the first ever in the diocese, which was founded in 1974.
Another first for the Diocese of Arlington this year will happen when His Excellency Bishop Paul Loverde administers the Sacrament of Confirmation using the Traditional Latin books, followed by benediction, in his cathedral on October 21 at 7:30 p.m.
If anyone says that our Church is a dying Church, I challenge them to attend an Ordination like the one in Leesburg. The church was absolutely packed with many young men and women, many large traditional families with many, many little children running around, bringing absolute joy and life to the occasion. Fr. Walker was probably smiling down from Heaven as he witnessed such a beautiful occasion such as this.
When I saw the nearly 30 FSSP priests in their full-length cassocks, surplices, and birettas, many of whom I know personally from my travels across the country, I told my wife Mary that this was like an All-Star Game of Traditional priests.
On top of that, I was also thrilled to see Canon Stein, a personal friend and the associate pastor at my former parish, the Institute of Christ the King in Chicago. It was great to see priests united from both the orders dedicated to the Traditional Latin Mass.
Let us all take comfort in knowing that maybe, just maybe, because of Fr. Walker’s death and ultimate sacrifice, the perpetrator will find repentance in his heart and seek God’s forgiveness and mercy. Fr. Joseph Terra has already forgiven him and so should we.
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(Rey Flores is a Catholic writer and speaker. Contact Rey at firstname.lastname@example.org.)