Father Paul Wattson, SA, Servant of God, is remembered for his world wide ministry in ecumenism. He founded what became the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” in 1908, which the Church still celebrates today. The ministry of At-One-Ment has blossomed to exemplary dialogue within the Christian Church as well as interreligious dialogue with Jews, Muslims and other world religious communities. Fr. Paul’s landmark homeless shelter, St. Christopher’s, has grown through the years to minister to the marginalized of our society, by offering care to those who suffer from homelessness and substance abuse.
Father Paul was born on January 16, 1863, in Millington, Maryland. In 1898, twelve years after he was ordained as an Episcopal priest, in collaboration with an Episcopalian nun, Lurana White, he helped to found the Society of the Atonement at Graymoor in Garrison, NY. This new religious order was formed in the tradition of the Franciscans with the mission of promoting Christian unity and working with the poor. In 1908, Father Paul initiated the Church Unity Octave believing that a time set aside for prayer and seminars would hasten Christian unity. Both advocates of corporate reunion between the Anglican and Catholic churches, he and Mother Lurana White made a decision to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church one year later in 1909. Father Paul was ordained a Catholic priest by Archbishop John M. Farley in 1910.
Fr. Paul Wattson died on February 8, 1940 at Graymoor in Garrison, NY. The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement continue his work toward Christian unity on three continents.