FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
(April 11, 2016—Garrison, NY) Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York formally opened the Cause for Canonization of Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 in New York City. The Rev. Paul Wattson, SA, (1863-1940) was founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and a champion of Christian unity and helping the poor. As various officials carry out the historical research, theological evaluation and conduct interviews with those who can testify to Father Paul’s reputation for holiness, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement have announced the a new Father Paul of Graymoor Guild. A new website, FatherPaulofGraymoor.org provides a central source of information for the life and legacy of Father Paul of Graymoor. There, the faithful can request a prayer card for the canonization cause, submit prayer intentions to the Guild and also report favors.
Father Joseph DiMauro, SA, Director of the Father Paul of Graymoor Guild, said, “The mission of the Father Paul of Graymoor Guild is to share information about the life and legacy of Father Paul Wattson, SA, and to provide resources to enrich understanding of his ministries through the written word, video, audio and photographic records. The Guild provides a prayer community focusing on his cause for canonization.”
Once the historical and theological evaluation is completed, the Archdiocese will forward their findings to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome where the second phase, often called the “Roman” phase, will take place.
Father Paul of Graymoor was born Lewis T. Wattson on January 16, 1863, in Millington, Maryland, to the Rev. Joseph Wattson and his wife Mary Electa Wattson. In 1898, twelve years after he was ordained as an Episcopal priest, in collaboration with an Episcopalian nun, Lurana White, he co-founded the Society of the Atonement at Graymoor. 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. The Society of the Atonement became the first religious community to be received corporately into the Catholic Church since the Reformation. Father Paul was ordained a Catholic priest by Archbishop John M. Farley in 1910.
It has been said that Father Paul had the heart of a Franciscan, but also had the passion to share the gospel like the apostle St. Paul. He published The Lamp, a monthly magazine devoted to Christian unity and the missions, and he produced “The Ave Maria Hour”, a radio program that broadcasted stories about the life of Christ and the lives of the Saints which aired from 1935 to 1969. In 1903 he founded an organization, the Union-That-Nothing-Be-Lost, to disperse donations to other charitable organizations. He also co-founded the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and was instrumental in helping to launch the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB). “The word of God calls us to live in unity that the world may believe,” said Father DiMauro, SA. “The life of Father Paul of Graymoor is an example of New Evangelization. Father Paul never counted the cost of his faith, ministry and service. He believed the power of prayer would unify Christians and heal those sick in body and spirit. He lived with compassion for sinners and loved the poor. He wanted to inspire people to reconcile all things in Christ.”
Father Paul Wattson died on February 8, 1940 at Graymoor in Garrison, NY of heart failure, and was laid to rest at the top of Mount Atonement in the shadow of the bell tower of the St. Francis Chapel he built at Graymoor. The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement continue his work toward Christian unity on three continents.
The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement are a Roman Catholic religious order of brothers and priests founded in 1898 by Father Paul Wattson. Their worldwide ministries include Christian unity; interfaith dialogue among Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists; serving the homeless and those suffering from alcoholism, drug addictions, and HIV/AIDS; preaching the gospel in parishes around the world, and offering respite and hope to those in need of spiritual renewal.
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