Another stage in the canonization process of Atonement Friars’ Founder Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, is now complete and he can be officially referred to as a Servant of God! Validating the work done by the Friars and the Archdiocese of New York, the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has determined that all of the research in the diocesan phase of his canonization process has been done correctly and that Vatican officials can move on to the next stage towards canonizing Fr. Paul. 

The recognition of a saint can be a lengthy process, as the Church seeks to affirm whether or not a man or woman is in heaven and can be looked to as an intercessor and a model of the Christian life. Here are some important dates in Fr. Paul’s canonization process so far:

1863 – 1940: Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, lived an extraordinary life, founding the Society of the Atonement and seeking in word and deed to bring about At-One-Ment to a broken world (read more about his life here).

1940s – Present Day: Fr. Paul’s legacy has grown through the work of the Atonement Friars and those who have sought his intercession in prayer. 

2015: Timothy Cardinal Dolan issued a decree initiating the cause for canonization of Fr. Paul of Graymoor in the Archdiocese of New York. He named various officials to carry out the historical research, theological evaluation and the search for those who can testify to Father Paul’s reputation for holiness.

March 2017: Documents and artifacts illustrating the holiness of the life of Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, were sealed for shipment to Rome. 

July 2019: Rome examined all of the documents sent to them and officially closed the diocesan phase of the canonization process.

What’s next? The next phase is known as the “Positio” wherein a “Relatore” will shepherd the cause through this next phase, working with a theological Commission appointed by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. Together, a summary will be prepared of the life and virtues of the Servant of God. The commission will then vote on whether or not the Cause should move forward. This recommendation will then be passed on to the Congregation who will then also vote. Their vote determines whether or not the Cause will move forward. If they vote in the affirmative, a Decree of Heroic Virtue will be presented to the Pope who will make a decision whether or not to approve it. If the Holy Father approves the decree, Fr. Paul will be known as Venerable.  

About this exciting new phase, Minister General Fr. Brian Terry, SA, shares, “This is a moment of tremendous joy for our community, as our Founder moves closer to being recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. It is our prayer that through this recognition, more people will be inspired by Fr. Paul’s life and witness to the power of Christian charity and At-One-Ment.”