Priest attacked at Phoenix church will recover

Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix priest who was badly beaten in an attack that killed another clergyman at a Roman Catholic church in downtown Phoenix is expected to make a full recovery, church officials said Sunday.

The Rev. Joseph Terra was moved out of a hospital intensive care unit Saturday night but will need time to recuperate after the Wednesday night attack, said the Rev. Carl Gismondi, a pastor visiting from San Diego.

Gismondi, who led the Sunday morning Mass, said he visited Terra, 56, at the hospital.

"He was in good spirits," Gismondi said after the service. Authorities were initially worried Terra wouldn't survive his injuries.

More than 100 parishioners at Mother of Mercy Mission gathered to mourn the Rev. Kenneth Walker, 28, who was shot to death by a suspect police are still pursuing.

Police are searching for a white male between the ages of 40 and 49 years old. Investigators have been analyzing forensic evidence from the crime scene and Walker's car. But with few leads, they have gone door to door looking for witnesses.

Gismondi asked parishioners to pray for Terra's recovery, for Walker and even the unknown suspect. Though people want to "see him brought to justice," Gismondi said being Catholic means to "pray for those who cause us harm."

Marisa Martinez, who was visiting with her mother from Houston, Texas, said they stopped by to pay their respects.

"It was definitely very real when you come here and see the flowers and the policeman out in front," Martinez said. "To hear of anyone being murdered, especially a priest, it is very tragic."

Elizabeth Papandrea, a regular parishioner, came to Mass like always with her husband and six kids. She said her two sons adored Walker, and not seeing him at church was difficult.

"This isn't the way it's supposed to be," she said. "It's very hard not seeing Father Walker, especially on Father's Day."

View Comments (10)