Friday, June 13, 2014

A Tribute to Fr. Kenneth Walker, F.S.S.P.

By now I am sure all of our readers have heard of the tragic death of Fr. Kenneth Walker, who was killed during a break-in at the FSSP church in Phoenix, Arizona. A friend of his from Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, Mr. Jonathan Arrington, has written this beautiful tribute to Fr. Walker, which he has agreed to share with us. Please continue to pray for his eternal repose, for the swift and complete recovery of his confrere Fr. Joseph Terra, who was badly injured in the attack, and for their families and parishioners.

I met Fr. Walker, then “Kenny”, when I visited Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in 2009. I was with him at the seminary for two years and spent a fair amount of time praying, playing, and studying beside him. What always struck me about Kenny was his joy and innocence: a joy that was anything but superficial, and an innocence which was simply yet “rational”. Fr. Walker was devoted to Our Lord, he spent his greatest energy in meditation and liturgical prayer, but he also found time to exude a genuine Christian happiness in all things. A few examples that come to mind: he played whatever sport everyone else was playing that day, in order to spent time in recreation with his brethren; he studied for tests in all subjects, as it was his state in life (at the seminary) to do; on group walks he would mostly listen, however he always had a pure and simultaneously hilarious joke to add to the conversation.

What was Father Walker’s defining mark? In my opinion, and from my recollections of an all too brief two years spent in his company, it was his concentration on each and every one of the virtues in the Christian life. There was nothing superfluous in his speech, not a single crude remark - about anyone (it wasn’t his place at the time to condemn or publicly rebuke anyone else), and it seemed that he perfectly lived the evangelical call to holiness by being “in the world but not of the world”. He was present, yet he was absent so as to be with Christ.

Anytime I was around Kenny, I came away from the conversation or soccer game or theological/philosophical “disputatio” a better person. Without saying a word Fr. Walker would always call to mind - by his demeanor, and his choice of words (and silence) - our final end. It is cathartic for me to write about Fr. Kenneth Walker because it is a “meditatio mortis” in all senses of that word. As a Catholic, I shall both pray for the repose of his soul - memory eternal - and I shall ask his intercession for us so that we may live in the same Christ-like manner in which he spent his short life on earth. Requiescas in pace, amice dulcissime. Αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη. ВІЧНАЯ ПАМЯТЬ!

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