Fr Ako Trevor Walker, CSSR stands in solidarity with the families of the workers, who died in the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore


Having spent many hours with the families of those lost in the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, Redemptorist Father Ako Trevor Walker, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus-Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Parish in Highlandtown, said simply being present for them is important. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Ever since the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed in the early hours of March 26, Redemptorist Father Ako Walker has been acting as a spiritual support to the families of six Hispanic construction workers who are believed to have perished in the tragedy.

The pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus/Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in Highlandtown serves a largely Spanish-speaking parish and is active in supporting new immigrants in the Baltimore area.

The Catholic Review spoke with Father Walker one day after he was with the families as they awaited news of their loved ones. Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maryland State Police announced late March 26 that due to the length of time and the cold temperature of the Patapsco River waters, the six workers were presumed dead. Two other workers who had been on the bridge at the time of its collapse were rescued, with one of them sent to the hospital.

“I am here with them as a spiritual presence during this difficult time,” Father Walker said. “They all have questions and can’t find the right answers to this situation, so I am here as a presence if anyone needs prayer or anything like that, I am available to help them.

“There is a very, very strong reaction, a sadness that the only word I can use is inexplicable, a sadness that is affecting them, and I can imagine the emotional scars they are suffering, the pain, the tears, the questions. It’s hard to explain,” he said.

Father Walker said the families of the workers, known to be from Mexico and Central America, are receiving official information from different agencies such as the police, the fire department, and the Maryland Department of Transportation. 

For this priest, the family members are trying to assimilate the news and cope with the tragedy in the best way possible.

“I am feeling the faith in everything because there are people suffering deeply and some seem to be accepting the reality of the situation that after so many hours, they may not find their relatives alive. So, it is a mixture of emotions,” he said. 

Likewise, Father Walker affirmed that he hopes to be able to hold a service or a Mass in the next few days so the community can honor the workers and show solidarity with the families through prayer. He hopes they can find comfort in the midst of their grief and can be surrounded by the support and affection of their community. 

Father Walker called on the community to accompany the families with prayers during Holy Week.

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