A New Resting Place for a Servant of God – CatholicPhilly.com

Story by Fr. Thomas Dailey, O.S.F.S. for CatholicPhilly.com.
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Fr. Bill Atkinson has a new home – at least here below.

On June 14, in a ceremony presided over by Archbishop Nelson Pérez, the mortal remains of the Servant of God were “translated” (i.e., moved) to a dedicated space in the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova.  It was in the monastery attached to the church that Fr. Bill died, and in the church that his funeral was celebrated in September 2006.

A beloved Augustinian friar, Fr. Bill was the first quadriplegic ever ordained to the priesthood, an extraordinary story recently featured in a PBS documentary. Following his ordination, Fr. Bill ministered at Monsignor Bonner High School in Delaware County for almost 30 years as a religion teacher and moderator of the football team.

Eleven years after his death, upon a request from the Augustinian province and with the endorsement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, his Cause for Beatification and Canonization was formally opened by Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, when he was serving as shepherd of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  With that, Fr. Bill received the title “Servant of God.”

In the ceremony of committal, prayers for the commendation of Fr. Bill’s soul to God were said following the Order of Christian Burial.  The remains were then bound with ribbon and stamped with wax seals before being placed in the sarcophagus. Also placed in the sarcophagus was a parchment (“rogito”) documenting the exhumation and translation that was signed by the archbishop, the members of the tribunal, the canonical witnesses, and both the Augustinian prior provincial and postulator general.

Following the committal ceremony, the archbishop served as principal celebrant at a Mass of Thanksgiving, at which members of the Augustinian province and of the Atkinson family were in attendance.