Category Archives: Uncategorized

Give us Silence or Give us Death: A Priest will accept death rather than violate this vow

Pedro Marielux                                                                             aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

Part 3 in the Series; Give us Silence or Give us Death;  Meet Father Peter Marielux

*Information about dialogue that took place between Father Marielux and the Commandant was found in a copy of the December 17, 1925, edition of the Freeman’s Journal; a publication in Sydney, Australia. Anything taken from there will be italicized.

His name was Pedro Marieluz Garces, but we can call him Peter Marielux. He was born in 1780 in Tama, Peru. From an early age, Peter knew in his heart he was called to be a priest, and he followed that calling without ever looking back. He joined the Camillian Order and was ordained to the priesthood in 1805. Eventually he would be appointed a chaplain for the Spanish military which managed Peru for the Spanish government.

The Peruvian War of Independence had started in 1811. The end of this war was in sight as the rebels had laid siege to the Port of Callao. The siege had begun in 1824, and nine months later the rebels had fortified their positions, and the Spanish army was in desperate need of supplies and ammunition. It was now 1825, and things were coming ta head.

The Spanish soldiers had been held in the fort without supplies or reinforcements able to get in. The garrison was under the command of Don Raymond Rodil. With food being almost gone and rationing down to crumbs, many of the soldiers began grumbling.

The chaplain to the troops was Father Peter Marielux. Father Peter had been doing his best to keep the spirit of the soldier upbeat, but it was getting to be a difficult task. Lack of food and necessities plus increasing illness was wearing them down.

Despair was beginning to spread, and then Don Rodil was told of a plot to take him prisoner and surrender to the rebels. Included in the group were some of his most trusted officers. Hearing this he became enraged even though he was not even sure if the rumors were true. He wasted not a moment and had those he suspected arrested.

None of them would confess to anything. It did not matter to Don Rodil. It was around 6 P.M. The “merciful” commandant gave the accused three hours to confess to the chaplain.   They would all be executed at 9 P. M. The number of men executed is unknown but suffice it to say, they all died at 9 P.M.

But the commandant was not finished. He knew the confessor, Father Peter, would know the dead men’s secrets. Even though they were now dead, it did not matter. He called the chaplain into his office.

Rodil: “Father, these scoundrels just executed have, no doubt, revealed in Confession all their plans and all the details on which they had placed their hopes. You must now disclose everything to me, and in the King’s name, I command you do so without concealing a name or a detail.”

 Father M: “General,” answered Father Marielux, “you ask an impossible thing from me. I shall NEVER sacrifice the salvation of my soul by revealing the secret of a penitent. If the King were here in person, God defend me from obeying a similar order.”

 The Brigadiers face crimsoned, and, taking the priest by the arm, he shook him violently, shouting in a commanding tone as he did so: “You must disclose everything to me or I will shoot you.”

 Father M: “If God desires my martyrdom, may His Will be done. A minister of the altar can reveal nothing of what is confided to him in the confessional.”

 Rodil: “Do not speak to me in this way—“You are a traitor to your King, your flag, your country, and your superior officer.”

 Don Rodil then gave the order to the captain of the guards to get four soldiers with loaded guns. When they arrived, he told the priest to kneel down, then in an imperious tone, turning toward the holy victim, he said: “For the last time, in the King’s name, I command you to reveal all you know to me.”

 Father M: “In God’s name, I refuse to speak,” answered the priest, in a weak but determined voice.

 Rodil:  “Madman!”

 The command was given and the shots fired. Father Marielux, the illustrious martyr of the Sacramental Seal, fell mortally wounded, his chest pierced with bullets. This occurrence took place on the 22nd of September, 1825.

Father Peter Marieloux  (Pedro Marieluz)  willingly accepted martyrdom rather than violate the Sacred Seal of Confession.

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This Aborigine child’s legacy lives on in the 21st Century-Meet Francis Xavier Conaci

Diremera and Francis Xavier Conaci       19th Century Australia Aborigines

By Larry Peterson

Kate Galvin is a nursing student from Australia who is a descendant of the Aborigines, the indigenous people native to her homeland.  Her roots are ingrained in what is known as Australia’s  Stolen Generations.

In July of 2018, she was awarded the Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship. Sponsored by the Australian Catholic University and the Australian government, she flew to Rome where she received her award and is finishing up her final year of study at the Rome Campus. She expects to earn her degree in nursing and midwifery sometime in 2019.

So who was Francis Xavier Conaci and why is a scholarship named after him?

On March 1, 1846, two Spanish Benedictines, Rosendo Salvado, and Joseph Serra, founded a mission on the southwest coast of Australia. It was named New Norcia, (after the Italian town of Norcia) which is the birthplace of St. Benedict. Within one year of their arrival, the cornerstone for their future monastery was set in place.

Friar Rosendo had devoted almost 20 years to spreading the gospel and teaching about Jesus to the Aborigines. Indigenous to Australia and Tasmania, these people were not even considered fully human.  Incredibly, Friar Rosendo had made remarkable progress in bringing the Catholic faith to these folks. He lived with them, camped with them, learned several of the primary languages (there were many), wrote dictionaries for them, and even acted as a lobbyist for them with the colonial authorities.

Rosendo Salvado realized the intelligence of these people and became aware of their potential. He decided to select a few of the children who seemed to shine above the rest and take them to Rome.  He hoped to train these youngsters as European religious so they could go back home and spread the faith among their own people.

Friar Salvado chose two boys: one was Francis Xavier Conaci*, age seven, and the other was John Baptist Diremera*, age eleven.  They left Perth on January 8, 1849. The youngsters were very excited about the journey and were bubbling over with enthusiasm. So was Friar Rosendo.  (They were not the first to travel to Rome. A year earlier the first boy baptized in New Norcia,  Benedict Upumera*, was taken on the journey but sadly, he died on the way. Benedict was only seven years old).

The journey was long and hard. The big sailing ship had to travel from Australia to Madagascar, round the Cape of Good Hope and then north to Europe.  It was several months before they arrived in Rome. But first, Friar Salvado,  was invited to speak before the Royal Geographical Society in London. The Society believed the Aborigines were sub-human and he was able to convince them that they were just as human and of the same intelligence as all of them. Having the two boys with him were his living, breathing, walking, talking, proof.

It was on to Rome, and they had an audience with Pope Pius IX. The Holy Father presented the boys with their black, woolen Benedictine robes. The pope, laying hands on Francis Xavier, said, ”Australia needs a second Francis Xavier; may the Lord bless this boy, and make him into one!”

The boys also met the Kings and Queens of Sicily and Naples and were filled with awe at the royal guards and all the pomp an beauty of the palaces. Then it was off to the monastery in the Campania region of Italy to begin their education. Amazingly, both of them were quick to understand Latin. Little Conaci was not only impressive with his learning he also exhibited a great love for Jesus and prayed often. The friars began predicting he might become the first Aborigine bishop in Australia. But, that would never happen.

In early 1853 the abbot at the monastery advised the Vatican that two boys seemed ill and he could not understand why. Doctors, including the Holy Father’s personal physician, decided that the two young boys who were just homesick. Their advice was to send them home to Australia. It was too late for Francis Xavier. On October 10, 1853, at the age of eleven, he died. He is now buried at the Major Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome.

John Baptist arrived back in Australia in May of 1855. The youngster, all of fifteen years old, died three months later. Church historian, Father Brendan Hayes of Melbourne says, “They pined away.”

The scholarship, established in 2016,  is named after Francis Xavier Conaci to extend the boy’s legacy from the beginning in 1849 and carry it to the present day. His youth, his love of Jesus, and the fact that he passed on while at the Benedictine monastery all reach across the decades to embrace the Australian Catholic Church and tie all Catholics “down under” together.

*The boy’s names; Francis Xavier, John Baptist, and Benedict are their baptism names given by the Benedictines. The last names are their Aboriginal or tribal names.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

A deadly blood disorder took his life at age 21, but it could not prevent him from reaching the road to sainthood–Meet Venerable Filippo Lo Verde

Venerable Filippo Lo Verde                                    fair use

By Larry Peterson

Filippo (Philip) Lo Verde was born in Palermo on December 10, 1910, and baptized on NewYear’s Day, 1911. By the time he was six years old,  he had already developed a deep love for the Child Jesus and was spending more and more time in prayer at home or in the nearby chapel. His influential family home life, which included daily prayer and the family Rosary, played a big part in his faith development.

By the time Philip turned twelve, he was sure he had received a vocation to the priesthood. His parents were not quite as confident as their son was. They knew a  Third Order Franciscan by the name of Antonina Spatola. He lived near the monastery, and they took Philip to see him. When Antonina learned that Philip wanted to be a  priest, he took him to Father Girolamo Giardina, the superior of the monastery (Father was destined to be Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor in Sicily). He gave Philip the biography of St. Francis of Assisi and asked him to read it.

The next day Philip brought the book with him to the chapel. He began to read, and when he was halfway through the book, a family member waiting for him heard him exclaim, “Enough! The Lord wants me to be a Franciscan.”

His father conceded to his son and gave him his approval. He was only twelve years old, and it must have been a hard thing for him to do. Philip’s mom was not so easy to convince. She wanted him to wait and enter a diocesan seminary when he was older. She loved him dearly and did not want to see him go behind the walls of a religious monastery. On August 30, 1922, he wrote her a letter and put it under her dinner plate. It was her birthday.

When they sat down to eat, she asked Philip to please read it to her. In the letter, he asked for her permission  and finished by writing (taken from his journal) “—“You must not let yourself be overcome by the devil because the devil does not want you to give me to Jesus, he has all these thoughts put in our heads, but we must not let the devil win. We must make the Lord win”.  When he finished reading, she told him, “Yes.”

Philip finished his initial training on January 21, 1923, and received the Franciscan habit assuming the name of Fra Luigi. He was still almost a year away from his thirteenth birthday. He remained at the Franciscan seminary of Motevago completing his middle school and high school classes while there.

It was during the spring of 1926 when Philip suffered from the first symptoms of the serious illness known as Oligoemia. The initial symptoms stopped him from studying. He was exhausted and could not focus. The disease was depleting his blood supply, and its effects were obvious. The teenager was fighting back amid great frustration.

The illness would seemingly go into remission, allowing him periods to get back to his studies. He did return to school in December of 1926 and managed to make his temporary religious vows on December 8, 1927. He was almost seventeen at the time.

In November of 1928, Philip moved to the Seraphic College of the Sacred Heart in Palermo. His illness returned with a fury. But even though he was fighting fatigue and exhaustion and had terrible headaches, he managed to complete his philosophy course.

He was required to undergo various therapeutic attempts to no avail. During this time there were two uplifting and happy days for the young man; on February 28, 1931, he received his clerical tonsure, and on May 30, 1931, he received the first of two minor orders.

Philip  Lo Verde went back home to visit his parents in October of 1931. His illness rapidly progressed, and he could barely get out of his bed. He knew the end was near and turned it all over to God. He received Holy Viaticum and Anointing of the Sick and was quoted as saying, “How sweet is the passage to Heaven!”

He died in his home on February 12, 1932, at the age of 21. It was reported he was smiling.

On June 14, 2016, Pope Francis declared him worthy of the title Venerable Luigi Filippo Lo Verde.

We ask him to pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This 21 year old never stopped smiling as cancer destroyed his body…meet Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio—

Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio                                                         facebook-fair use

By Larry Peterson

Nicola D’Onofrio was born in Villamagna, Italy, on March 24,1943. His father, Giovanni, and his mom, Virginia, had their son baptized three days later in the parish church of St. Mary’s. Nicola’s dad was a successful farmer, but more importantly, he was a man of integrity, honesty, and wisdom, virtues fueled by a deep and abiding Catholic faith. His mom was known for her piety and kindness. Their character traits would be passed on to their son.

As Nicola began to grow the distinct qualities of kindness and peacefulness seemed to be part of whom he was. He made his First Holy Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi in June of 1950.  Three years later, in October of 1953, he received his Confirmation. His teachers and even his classmates invariably spoke or wrote of Nicola’s hard work ethic, his kindness, and his availability to anyone who needed help. No matter the season, he never missed serving at Mass in the morning even though it was a   two-mile walk to the church.

When Nicola was about 10 years old, a priest who belonged to the Order of St. Camillus aka Camillian invited him to consider entering the Camillian Studentate in Rome. Nicola immediately accepted the offer, but his parents felt he was not ready.  His father wanted him to stay at home and take over the family farm, when he grew up. His two unmarried aunts tried to convince him that he was their only heir. However, Nicola, even at his young age, wanted desperately to become a priest.

During the following year, Nicola prayed and studied hard, and by the end of the year, his family gave him permission to enter the Camillian school. The school was for pre-teens to see if they truly displayed signs of having a real vocation. The date he entered the school was October 3, 1955. He was twelve years old, and it was the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The Little Flower would later become his spiritual guide.,

During the next six years, Nicola’s character continually manifested a person who was humble, friendly, helpful, and above all, always smiling. He was constantly ready to help others, render words of comfort or understanding, and simply be there when and if needed.

Interestingly, Nicola learned after several years at school that his father had wanted to bring him back home. Nicola wrote him saying he was determined to become a priest in the Camillian Order no matter the cost. His dad humbly relented.

Nicola worked hard and applied himself to his studies, gaining the respect and admiration of his teachers. He wanted to be a worthy priest, and his work ethic evidenced that. On October 7, 1961, and after a period of intense training, Nicola took the vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, and Charity towards the sick, especially those with contagious diseases. These vows were binding for three years. At the end of that period, he would take his final vows as a professed Castillian religious.

It was toward the end of 1962 that first symptoms of cancer that would kill him reared its ugly head. He did not understand the pain he was having, nor why he felt weak. Testing ensued, and following the advice of his superiors and the doctors, he was operated on at the urology department at St. Camillo Hospital in Rome.  The diagnosis came back as positive for Tera-tosarcoma, better known as genital cancer, and it had already begun to metastasize. The date was July 30, 1963.

The pain and suffering increased dramatically over the next year. Weakend and in constant pain young Nicola never stopped praying  and smiling. His Rosary was his constant companion. He  had one desire; he wanted desperately to be able to take his final vows.

A request was sent to Pope Paul VI, and he granted Nicola a special dispensation allowing him to receive these vows. On May 28, 1964, Nicola D’Onofrio consecrated himself to God for life. It was his final act of love. On June 5, the feast of the Sacred Heart, Nicola, fully conscious and completely aware that he was dying, smilingly received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Nicola passed away on June 12, 1964. He was twenty-one years old, and he was surrounded by his family and Camillian brothers. A close family friend who had assisted Nicola throughout his illness remembered his last moments and said, “He seemed to me like Jesus Christ on the Cross, so calm and confident, with prayers on his lips, calling Our Lady ‘Mom.’

Pope Francis declared Nicola D’Onofrio a man of ‘heroic virtue’ and worhty of the title, Venerable,on July 5, 2013.

Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Venerable Mother Rosario Arroyo—She gave away her wealth and spent her life serving the poor

Mother Maria Rosario of the Visitation      en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Maria Beatrice Rosario Arroyo was born on February 17, 1884, in Molo, which is located in the Philippines. She was the only daughter born to  Ignacio Arroyo and Dona Maria Podal; the Arroyos also had two sons. Three days after Maria’s birth she was baptized in St. Anna’s Church in Molo and officially named Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo.

Maria’s family was well to do, and her parents were well known for the generous almsgiving. The Arroyo sons and daughter were taught the importance and virtue of giving of themselves at an early age. This virtuous sense of self-giving became part of who they were, especially Maria.

The young woman could have lived a life of luxury, but her upbringing had left her keenly aware of the misery and plight of the poor and downtrodden. Her compassion for others was genuine and intense. Maria was unspoiled by the quality and abundance of material things that were hers for the taking. She just wanted to share what she could with those less fortunate.

Maria attended school at the Colegio de St. Anna, which was a private school in Moto. She was transferred to Colegio de San Jose to prepare for her First Holy Communion.  This school was run by the Daughters of Charity, and she remained here until she finished her elementary education. From there, she began the initial steps toward religious life. She entered the Convent of St. Catalina in Manila and made her profession of vows on January 3, 1914.

Despite coming from affluence and having great wealth, Maria chose a life of poverty, devoting her life to the poor. She entered the Dominican Order and with the help of two other Dominican nuns, created the Dominican sisters of the Most Holy Rosary. The date was February 18, 1927. From that point forward, she was known as Mother Rosario Arroyo. (Most Filipinos refer to her as Madre Sayong).

The Congregation continued to grow and, after 32 years in existence, the First General Chapter was convened. Meeting from January 3-6, 1953, Mother Rosario was elected the First Superioress General of the Order.  She served for three and a half years before heart failure caused her passing on June 14, 1957.

Mother Rosario’s legacy has spread itself around the entire world. The order runs schools, colleges, retreat houses, and convents, not only in ten dioceses and archdioceses in the Philippines but also has a membership of over 250 serving people in the Mariana Islands, the Diocese of  Ngong in Kenya,  several cities in Italy, and in the United States in the Archdiocese of San Francisco  and the Diocese of Honolulu, Hawaii. All toll, the nuns run 31 schools, two colleges, two retreat houses, a charitable institution, and a clinic. Another 40 or more sisters work in foreign missions.

Reports of miracles attributed to Mother Rosario have been credible enough that the cause for her canonization is underway. On July 28, 2009, the process was initiated by Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro, the Philippines.  Based on gathered evidence of miraculous cures that had occurred the official opening of Mother Rosario’s cause took place on October 7, 2009. The ceremonies were conducted at the parish church of St. Anne, in Molo, Mother Rosario’s birthplace.

Miracles that saved people from aneurysm, leukemia, and cancer were among the first documented. In 1983, a Manila woman, Angela Palma, who had been diagnosed with cancer and was not expected to live, prayed to Mother Rosario to be cured. The cancer was found to be gone, and in 2003 she was still alive without medical explanation for her survival.

Another reported miracle involves a woman with leukemia. In 2004, she was “miraculously cured” after prayers to Mother Rosario were invoked. A year later, she was found to be disease free without ever having had any blood transfusion or chemotherapy as described by doctors.

These are just two examples of purported miracles that have taken place because of Mother Rosario’s intercession. Further investigation will continue until not a shred of doubt as to their veracity can be found.

On June 11, 2019, Mother Rosario Arroyo (Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo) was declared by Pope Francis to be a woman of “heroic virtue” and now bears the title; Venerable Rosario Arroyo. She is one step away from being beatified.

Venerable Rosario Arroyo; we ask for your prayers.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Part II: Martyred Priests and Laypersons of the Cristero War: Canonized on May 21, 2000, by Pope St. John Paul II

Cristero War Priest executed                                      http://www.hereodote.net

By Larry Peterson

On May 21, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized 25 saints and martyrs who died in the  Cristero War in Mexico. Most of the newly canonized were Catholic priests. Six of the priests were members of the Knights of Columbus.

This is Part II which profiles some of these heroes and defenders of the faith who invariably shouted, “Vivo Cristo Rey,” (long live Christ the King) as the executioner’s bullets tore into them or the hangman’s noose crushed their throats.

  • Saint Jenaro Sanchez Delgadillo:   On September 19, 1886, Julia Delgadillo gave birth to a baby boy, She and her husband, Cristobal Sanchez, were humble people and faithful Catholics and they were thrilled with the arrival of their new son.  They named him Jenaro.

 

Jenaro Sanchez was a fine student. After finishing his primary grades, he received a scholarship to the Archdiocesan Seminary at Guadalhara. He was ordained to the priesthood on August 20, 1911, and immediately began his priestly ministry. His primary focus quickly turned to care for the sick in his parish and teaching catechism to the children.

In 1923, with the bishop in exile in Texas, Father Sanchez became the vicar of the town of Tamazulita, He had been jailed once and released several days later for reading a letter from the archbishop which attacked the government for its anti-Catholic policies. However, Plutarco Calles had become president in 1924 and had taken an extremely hard stand against everything Catholic. The fact was, Calles hated the Catholic Church and all its members.

Public worship had been prohibited and strictly enforced under Calles. Father Sanchez and other priests had found places where they could celebrate Mass in secret. A family had given him and his mom and dad shelter in their home located outside the parish boundaries. He had no idea the authorities had been told of his whereabouts.

On January 17, 1927, he and five friends were arrested by the soldiers. When his friends saw the soldiers coming they told him to run and hide.  He refused. The soldiers let the others go but they had other plans for Father Jenaro Sanchez. They tied his hands behind him and dragged him to a nearby mango tree. Then, as they taunted and mocked him, they hung Father Sanchez murdering the man of God.

Saint Janero Sanchez Delgadillo, please pray for us.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Priest and the Laymen: These following four Cristeros went to their deaths together: Father Luis Batiz Sainz; Senor Manuel Morales; Senor David Roldan; and Senor Salvador Lara.

Saint Luiz Batiz Sainz: He was born in 1870, entered a minor seminary at the age of 12, and was ordained a priest in 1894. He devoted most of his time to catechesis, had a deep devotion for Eucharistic Adoration, and was a member of the Knights of Columbus; council 2367.

Saint Manuel Morales: He was born in 1898 in a small town called Mesillas. He entered the seminary but had to drop out to go to work to help support his poor family. He became a baker, married, and had three children. He was a member of the local Catholic Workers Union.

Saint David Roldan Lara: He was born on March 2, 1907. His dad, Pedro Roldan, died when David was just one year old. He entered a seminary but, like Manuel Morales, had to drop out to help support his struggling mom. He was an outspoken critic of the Calles government and was the vice- president of National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty. He was only 19.

Saint Salvador Lara Puente: He was born in 1905, and was tall and strong and a fine athlete. He became a miner to help support his widowed mother and was an outspoken critic of the secular government.

The four men listed above were jailed together. Father Luiz was older, and he became not only their spiritual father but also their temporal “father” providing the young men comfort as they all knew what was about to happen to them.

On August 15, 1926, all four were loaded into two cars and driven out to the nearby mountains. They took the prisoners out of the cars and told them they were guilty of conspiracy against the government.

They were directed to a spot where they were to be executed. Together they prayed and then began to walk toward the designated location. As they walked, they all cried out together, “Long live Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe!”  Then they all were shot to death by firing squad.

We ask these martyred saints to pray for us all.

(Part III to follow)

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This Pennsylvania native became the first American quadriplegic priest

Servant of God Bill Atkinson                                             Augustinian Order

By Larry Peterson

William Edward Atkinson was born on January 4, 1946,  in the suburban Philadelphia town of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, He came from a devout Catholic family, and as he grew, he was obviously someone who had focus and direction. Strong in faith, he studied hard and received excellent grades. He was blessed with outstanding athletic skills and proved to be a very talented baseball player. He also volunteered at a nearby home for children with disabilities. He was the kind of son any parent would be proud of.

Bill had spent his high school years attending Monsignor Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. It was during his senior year that he announced his wishes to become an Augustinian friar. He had been taught by them and admired them greatly. After graduating high school in 1963, he entered the Augustinian Academy on Staten Island, N.Y. as a postulant. He remained there a year and then, on September 9, 1964, he moved to the Good Counsel Novitiate located in New Hamburg, N.Y.

The young novice was doing fine until fate stepped in and dealt him a heavy blow. It was February 22, 1965, when Bill and other novices were tobogganing down the snow-covered hills surrounding their campus. Bill’s toboggan careened out of control and smashed into a tree. The young man’s spine was shattered. In an instant, the strong, athletic, nineteen-year-old was paralyzed from the neck down, save some slight movement of his head, neck, shoulder, and arms.

During the time immediately after the accident, things for Bill Atkinson became quite tenuous. His novice master came to him and asked if he wished to profess vows; this was allowed when death was imminent, even for a novice. He accepted the offer.  Over the next several days, he stopped breathing several times, developed pneumonia, and had a high fever. Throughout this crucial time, Bill’s parents never left his side.

The other novices began a novena to Blessed John Neumann (today he is St. John Neumann) for Brother Bill’s recovery.  Incredibly, on the last day of the novena, his condition stabilized. Doctors were baffled. They never thought Bill would make it.

Bill then began a regimen of intense rehabilitation which lasted for more than a year. His treatments and physical therapy would continue but he now had developed a renewed sense of purpose. He was determined to remain an Augustinian and continue his studies. He pleaded with them to allow him to stay on his spiritual journey.

His Order accommodated the determined Bill Atkinson and he was sent to St. Mary’s Hall, Villanova University, which was the Province’s Collegiate House of Formation.  Here he restarted his novitiate and, on July 20, 1970, he professed simple vows. Bill managed to get through his period of formation because of a group of his fellow Augustinians. These young men continually looked out for him and helped him along the way. He even learned how to use a motorized wheelchair and on July 20, 1973, he was able to profess his solemn vows.

Bill was not finished with his journey. His next goal was the Catholic priesthood. John Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia knew of Bill and said that he would be honored to ordain him when Bill and the Province together, thought he was ready.

Folks from the Theology Department at Villanova University and friars who were on the staff of the Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC, worked with Bill to help him complete his studies. With a special dispensation from Pope Paul VI, Bill Atkinson was ordained by Cardinal Krol to the priesthood on February 2, 1974. The ceremony took place in his hometown parish of St. Alice’s. in Upper Darby, PA. It was almost nine years after his accident. He celebrated his first Mass at the Fieldhouse at Villanova University.

Father Bill was sent back to Monsignor Bonner High School as primarily, a theology teacher. He remained there for almost 30 years. Besides teaching, he was the assistant school chaplain, football team moderator, senior class retreat coordinator, and the director of the after-school and Saturday detention program which was known as JUG, meaning Justice Under God.  Most importantly, he became a beloved priest, teacher, coach, chaplain, understanding confessor, and friend to many. He also was known for his great sense of humor.

God called his faithful servant, Father Bill Atkinson, on Septemeber 15, 2006. He was 60 years old. On November 17, 2015, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia presented the Cause for Canonization of Father Bill to the USCCB. The cause was unanimously approved and sent to Rome.

Someone once asked Father Bill, ‘How do you do it?” He said, “Day after day, help of others along the way, valued friends, sisters, brothers, I simply borrowed – the strength of others.”

Servant of God, Bill Atkinson; please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019