Speakers will include: Mrs. Joan Mullen, Father Atkinson’s sister; Mrs. Janine Zozaya, Father Atkinson’s niece; Mr. Ralph Celedonio, Father Atkinson’s colleague at Monsignor Bonner; and Father Robert Hagan, O.S.A. and Father Frank Horn, O.S.A., priests from the Order of Saint Augustine. Each representative will speak on a different aspect of Father Atkinson's life and on the current proceedings in the cause for Sainthood.
In 1974, after continuing his studies and receiving special permission from Pope Paul VI, he became the first quadriplegic ordained to the Roman Catholic Priesthood. He spent 30 years teaching at his alma mater, Monsignor Bonner. In 2006, he died at the age of 60. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops endorsed his cause for Sainthood in 2015 and Archbishop Chaput formally opened his cause for sainthood this past April with celebration of the formal rite for the beginning of the beatification and canonization process. The celebration was held on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Augustine.