Parishioners pray for priests attacked at Phoenix church

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- As expected, services Sunday morning were a little different at the Mother of Mercy Mission church in downtown Phoenix, as parishioners showed up to pray for two of their own spiritual leaders.

“Today, it seems that there are some very faith-filled people. They prayed for forgiveness. They prayed for the family of Father Walker and the recovery of Father Terra, and it was just lovely,” said Susan Reeves, who attended Sunday’s service.

The Rev. Kenneth Walker was fatally shot and the Rev. Joseph Terra severely beaten by an unknown suspect at the church Wednesday night.

“I felt blessed to be here, to happen to be at mass where this incident took place, to help pray for him,” said parishioner Tom Schultheis.

During the services, investigators went door to door looking for new leads in the killing and beating. Police said they're still processing evidence from the scene, but because the crime happened in the rectory of the Roman Catholic church, it didn't interfere with the services.

“I think anybody with faith has to find peace and solace and be happy for the ... soul of Father Walker. Yes, we move forward,” Schultheis said.

Terra is stable at an area hospital and expected to make a full recovery. At this point, he has provided only limited information to the police about the person who attacked him.

Preparations are underway for a memorial in honor of Walker. On Monday, there will be a 10 a.m. requiem mass at St. Catherine of Siena, which is located at Central and Southern avenues. Walker's funeral will take place in his hometown in Kansas.