By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  The cause of sainthood for a priest from Upper Darby has earned a big endorsement from an important group in the catholic church.

Those who knew and cared for Father Bill Atkinson, a quadriplegic priest who taught at Monsignor Bonner High School for nearly 30 years, believe he is exactly the model the Catholic Church is looking for in its saints.

(photo credit Fr. William DiGregorio )

(photo credit Fr. William DiGregorio)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agree.

They voted this month during their general assembly in Baltimore to endorse the Atkinson cause after a presentation by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Father William DiGregorio is prior provincial of the St. Thomas of Villanova province, of the Augustinian order to which Atkinson belonged.

He says Chaput’s plea was crucial.

“A very satisfying experience for us who had initiated this to be able to hear that kind of endorsement,” Chaput told KYW Newsradio.

DiGregorio, in charge of U.S. efforts to secure sainthood, says he recently established a guild to help publicize the cause and to reach people who knew Fr. Atkinson, who died in 2006.

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