Wattson, Paul James Frances

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Founder of the Society of the atonement; b. Millington, MD, Jan. 16, 1863; d. Garrison, NY, Feb. 8, 1940. He was baptized Lewis Thomas Wattson. In 1882, having studied at St. Mary's Hall, Burlington, NJ, and St. Stephen's (now Bard) College, Annandale, NY, he entered General Theological Seminary, New York City. After his ordination for the Episcopal Church in 1886, he began to work for reunion with the Holy See. In December 1898, with Mother Mary Lurana White, an Episcopal nun, he founded at Graymoor, NY, the Society of the Atonement, comprising Franciscan friars and Franciscan sisters of the Atonement who worked and prayed for this objective. Following a year's novitiate under the Anglican Fathers of the Holy Cross at Westminster, MD, he received the habit of the friars of the Atonement (1900) and took the name, Paul James. In 1903 he began publishing The Lamp, in which he defended papal infallibility and urged all Anglicans to return to Rome. To this end, in 1909 he inaugurated an eight-day period of prayer called the Church Unity Octave. Under Catholic auspices this became the Chair of Unity Octave, held each year January 18 to 25, and observed by non-Catholic bodies as the Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Graymoor community of 17 friars, sisters, and laymen was received corporately into the Catholic Church in 1909. After theological studies at St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, NY, Wattson was ordained in 1910 by Abp. John M. Farley. Besides directing his society, he founded St. Christopher's Inn, a refuge for homeless men at Graymoor; organized the Graymoor Press and the "Ave Maria Hour" on radio; established a major seminary in Washington, DC; and collaborated with Richard Barry Doyle to found the catholic near east welfare association, which was incorporated in 1924 with his Union-That-Nothing-Be-Lost, initiated in 1904.

Bibliography: t. cranny, Father Paul, Apostle of Unity (Peekskill, NY 1955). d. gannon, Father Paul of Graymoor (New York 1951).

[d. gannon]

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Wattson, Paul James Frances

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