Friday, June 16, 2017


SERVANT of GOD FATHER PAUL WATTSON  was born in  Maryland in 1863 to a devout Episcopalian family. His father was an Episcopalian priest.  He himself was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 1886; but he was deeply influenced by the life of St. Francis of Assisi.  He saw a need for a preaching order which emphasized service to the poor; he also sought to repair the breach which divided Christianity.

In 1900, Father Wattson was professed as a Franciscan friar in the Episcopal church, bringing  with him a number of other people.  Nine years later, in 1909, Father Wattson–together with his Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, was received into the Roman Catholic Church.  The group was the first religious community to be received corporately into the Catholic Church since the Reformation.

He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Archbishop John M. Farley in 1910.

Among his many contributions to the faith, Father Paul founded St. Christopher’s Inn, a refuge for homeless men, The Lamp, a monthly magazine devoted to Christian unity and the missions, The Ave Maria Hour, a radio program that broadcast stories about the life of Christ and the lives of the Saints, and the Union-That-Nothing-Be-Lost, an organization founded in 1903 to disperse donations to other charitable organizations.  

He began the Church Unity Octave, commonly known among Catholics as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in 1907, before he had been received into the Catholic Church.  He also co-founded the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

The friars continue their focus on ecumenical work. In this many serve as resource people to dioceses throughout the world. 

Their motherhouse continues to be Graymoor in the United States, but they have houses in BrazilCanada Italy, and the United Kingdom. As well as running parishes in the United States, the Friars are engaged in ministry to those in prison, in hospitals and in nursing homes.

The Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement have established catechetical and daycare centers all over North America, serving rural communities throughout the western United States and Canada, as well as inner city locales, such as Harlem in New York City. Several accompanied the Japanese-American communities they served into the forced resettlement conducted during World War II. Today, the Sisters serve in the United States, Canada, Italy, Japan, and Brazil.

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