St. Marys, KS (KSNT) – Family and friends are saying their final goodbyes to a priest who was shot and killed in a Phoenix church….by someone who was trying to break-in.
Nearly 200 people gathered at a rosary Thursday night at Sacred Heart Church in Paxico for 28-year-old Father Kenneth Walker.
Walker was shot and killed in a Phoenix church last Wednesday.
Police say someone was trying to break into the church in the evening and that suspect shot Walker.
The suspect also injured another priest who is recovering from his injuries.
Earlier on Thursday, there was also a viewing open to the community in St. Marys.
The crime happened hundreds of miles away…..but Walker’s family lives here in northeast Kansas in Wabaunsee County.
Walker’s family tells Kansas First News anchor Cristina Frank……what they think Walker would say to his killer.
“He was always very energetic. Always persevering…always….had a purpose,” Walker’s brother, T.J. Walker, said.
T.J. Walker says his brother, Kenny…was pure of heart.
The kind of man who talked about philosophy, life…..and was a lover of conversation.
His family says even in the darkest of times….Kenny, as he was known to the family, wanted others to find hope.
“There’s people here, obviously, who are stunned and shocked…but they can still find things to smile and laugh about. And I think that would bring him insurmountable joy, really,” Walker’s half-brother, Nicholas Luber, said.
And while other might want revenge…..T.J. says Kenny…wouldn’t.
“He’d be hoping most likely….especially to pray for the murderer. Most likely….not to be upset at that man but pray and really hope that he confesses some day and becomes a better person,” T.J. Walker said.
It’s that faith which brought people, like Annie Riccomini, who never even met Father Walker….to pay their respects.
“What father wanted to do with his life, which was to be like another christ, and pay the price for souls…he really did that,” Riccomini said.
The family says since last week – there has been an outpouring of support from around the world.
Masses, prayers, cards…..even a phone call from the Archbishop of New York.
“My sister and I both got a phone call from Cardinal Dolan…and it was just beautiful that he did that. And that’s the support that we are getting. And it just keeps pouring in. And we just want to say thank you to everyone who has been supporting us because we really, really need it,” Walker’s aunt, Ann Dombroski, said.
The funeral will be Friday at 11:00am also at Sacred Heart Church.
Father Walker will be buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in St. Marys.