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Preaching Christ Crucified – Fr. Bill Atkinson

March 21, 2021

Fr. Bill Atkinson was the first paraplegic priest in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

A toboggan accident in 1965 confined Fr. Bill to a wheelchair.  But he viewed his physical condition as the call to a special vocation conformed to the cross.

As Fr. Bill explained, “in this modern age where the dignity of human life is measured by productivity alone and where suffering should be eliminated at all cost, we must more than ever preach Christ crucified.”

For nearly 30 years, Fr. Bill taught theology at Msgr. Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, PA.  He served as asst. school chaplain, football team moderator, senior class retreat coordinator, and detention program director.

Fr. Bill was well known for his sense of humor.  But in the classroom, his mere presence created discipline and order.  He was known to be a fine teacher, and a compassionate confessor [1A].

In a poem titled “The Strength of Others”, Fr. Bill wrote:

“‘How’d you do it?’ People would say
So confining, day after day
Having others around for constant care
Ever wonder if life’s unfair?…

‘How’d you do it?’ Day after day
The path taken wasn’t my way
The choice was Another’s, not my own
He sent me help. Couldn’t do it alone… [1B]”

Fr. Atkinson felt the love of Christ expressed through others.  He believed we can all convey that.

[1A]  Father Bill Atkinson, “The Effort to Canonize Father Bill Atkinson”,

[1B]  Father Bill Atkinson, “The Strength of Others”,


From → Christian, Faith, Religion

  1. As with all your posts, this story is equally touching and inspirational. Thank you for introducing me to this special man.

  2. A truly beautiful post Anna. Thank you!

  3. A very interesting and great personality.

  4. Bill truly understood how God allows and chooses to use suffering for His Glory and Good in this world

  5. Thank you Anna.
    Wonderful testimony of Gods helping hand.
    Jacob Berry who has a rare type of muscular dystrophy was determined to preach.
    God gave him the strength to do it as well.

  6. All of your content is just amazing 🙂

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