PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The cause for sainthood for a priest from Delaware County takes an important step.

Father Bill Atkinson was a teacher at Monsignor Bonner High School in Drexel Hill for 30 years.

Known to thousands of students at Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School as Father “AK,” he was confined to a motorized wheelchair following a sledding accident when he was 19.

At a mass at Villanova University Monday night, Archbishop Charles Chaput officially opened the cause for Atkinson’s beatification and canonization. It is a critical step on the path to sainthood.

Atkinson died in 2006.

The Bonner-Prendie community is celebrating the important step this morning.