Father Paul Wattson, SA, Servant of God Timeline

 

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. — St. Francis

 

Father Paul of Graymoor lit his single candle, spreading light where ever he could. He surrendered to God, each step of his life. He undertook with joy a life of renunciation and suffering which in order to share The Atonement made by Christ. At his funeral the eulogy by V. Rev. Dr. Ignatius Smith, O.P. said Father Paul was prophetic in his vision, and it was difficult to not believe that he had been guided by the Holy Spirit in most of his endeavors. "He had confidence in God that could come only from a mind thoroughly illumed by the light of an extraordinary faith."

Birth of Father Paul

On January 16, at the height of the Civil War in America, Father Paul is born Lewis Thomas Wattson to Joseph Newton Wattson, a Presbyterian who converted to the Episcopal Church, and a twice-widowed woman named Mary Electa. His father was influenced by the writings of John Henry Newman, who expounded a Catholic Revival within the Episcopal Church, and was later received into the Catholic Church. Joseph Wattson was dismissed from seminary under the suspicion of being a secret Jesuit. He later was able to serve as Rector in a small Episcopal Church in Maryland. Throughout his life, he was marginalized, misunderstood, frustrated and poor, but his name will be forever remembered, chosen as he was by God to father, to train and to mould the character of one destined to accomplish great things Father Paul James Wattson.

1863

Seminary Years

Father Paul attends General Theological Seminary in New York and completes his course of study at the alma mater of Joseph Wattson, his father, who was accused by administration of being a secret Jesuit and quietly dismissed.

1882–1885

An Episcopal Rector

Father Wattson becomes rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in Kingston, NY, joined by his father Joseph to serve Communion, until he could fully discharge the pastoral duties upon reception into the presbyterate.

1885–1895

Guided by St. Francis & Scripture

Father Wattson reads about the life of St. Francis of Assisi, and opens the books of the Gospel at random to find a name for the preaching order he sought to establish. His first turn of the pages leads to John 7:37-39 and this reveals to him the power of a preaching order and the joy of religious life; on his second turn his eyes fall upon Romans 5:11:

And not only so, but we also joy in God, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

At that moment he realized his Society's vocation, At-One-Ment with God of all redeemed through unity.

1893

Pulpit of the Cross

Father Wattson begins publication of The Pulpit of the Cross, first intended to be a parish bulletin. In it, he deplored the divisions in Christianity.

1894

Enters a Monastic Life

Drawn by his spiritual desire he joins the work of the Associate Mission, a group of unmarried Episcopal clergymen leading a semi-monastic life in Omaha, Nebraska. He helps expand the mission and attempts to lead the men in a monastic Benedictine style life.

1895

A Letter from Sister Lurana White

Sister Lurana White of the Episcopal Sisters of the Holy Child writes to Father Wattson trying to determine if the Episcopal Church had any religious sisters vowed to corporal poverty. This is the beginning of a period of correspondence where the two discuss Father Paul's wish to begin a community. Sister Lurana stayed a year in England with the Sisters of Bethany with the intention to return home and begin an order. On her way home she visits Assisi.

1895–1898

Covenant Day

On the feast of St. Francis, Father Wattson visits Sister Lurana at her family's home in Warwick, NY. Sister Lurana writes in her diary that first meeting was the dawning realization of the oneness of God's call. They planned the future Society of the Atonement and began a three day retreat into prayer, which ends on October 7, a date which is now celebrated by the Friars and Sisters of the Atonement as Covenant Day.

1898

Founding of Society of Atonement with Mother Lurana

On December 15, 1898 Mother Lurana left her home in Warwick, NY for Graymoor to establish a Foundation for the Society of the Atonement. Three Episcopal women had acquired an abandoned and desecrated Chapel there, St. John in the Wilderness. Inspired by the story of St. Francis restoring the Church of San Damiano they renovated the old building and in 1893 convinced the Episcopal diocese in New York to rededicate the chapel. The women were hoping Franciscans would settle nearby and Sister Lurana accepted the invitation together with Fr. Wattson to make a foundation there for the Society of the Atonement. December 15 is now celebrated by the Friars and Sisters as Foundation Day.

1898

Takes Possession of the Graymoor Property

On June 14, the Feast of Corpus Christi, Father Paul fashions a heavy rough cross out of a tall cedar tree at the foot of the mountain and carries it to the summit, which still stands for pilgrims to pray before.

1900

Publishes The Lamp

Father Wattson launches the first issue of The Lamp on February 3, a publication where he promotes Anglican submission to the Holy See.

1903

Founds Union That Nothing Be Lost (UNBL)

On the feast of St. Thomas in 1904, Father Paul woke at 5 am hearing in his soul the words; Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. At once he wanted to create a missionary society to provide for the material needs of those on the front lines. The voice told him he would have to wait seven years.

1904

First Church Unity Octave

For a period of eight days (January 18th through 25th, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul) was set apart for the express purpose of seeking that unity which was prayed for by Christ Himself. This was the inspiration given by God to Father Paul Wattson. Father Paul, along with Mother Lurana White, founded, within the Episcopal Church, the Franciscan Society of the Atonement in Graymoor, New York. Father Paul, who entered the Roman Catholic Church along with Mother Lurana in 1909, considered the Octave, which was approved by Pope Pius X, to be the greatest project to come from Graymoor. During his lifetime, the Octave was overshadowed by the less-specific Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, however, he received great joy that those separated from the Catholic Church felt called to observe the January period as a time of prayer for unity.

The greatest undertaking of the Friars and Sisters of the Atonement was to inaugurate the Church Unity Octave. (Fr. Paul writing in The Candle Jan.–Mar. 1939 p.27)

1908

Reception Day

On October 29, Our Lady of the Angels Chapel was blessed by Msgr. Joseph Conroy and on October 30, 1909, seventeen members of the Society of the Atonement were received into the Catholic Church, including Father Paul and Mother Lurana.

1909

Establishment of St. Christopher's Inn

St. Paul's Friary, built in 1900, drew homeless men who came for housing and food. In the summer of 1909, these men who Father Paul called "Brothers Christopher" felled trees to build a chicken house. Father Paul, shortly thereafter, visited Washington, DC, and inspired by a photo of Abraham Lincoln's log cabin, on the spot resolved to use the newly build chicken house to lodge the homeless men who sought shelter at Graymoor.

1909

Ordination as a Catholic Priest

Father Paul of Graymoor was ordained at St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, Yonkers, NY by Archbishop Farley on June 16, 1910. He celebrated his first Mass the following day at Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels. He celebrated a Solemn Public Mass on July 3, 1910, the Feast of the Most Precious Blood. Fr. Solanus Casey, OFM Cap., who is on the path to beatification as well, was deacon. Mother Lurana wrote, "Father Solanus preached a wonderful sermon, I will ever sing the mercies of the Lord. He said beautiful things of this new baby (the S.A.) in the Franciscan Family and said he doubted not it would fill the world and would last until the end of the world. May it be a prophecy. "

1910

UNBL

Two years after the Society of the Atonement entered into the Catholic Church, the Rule and Constitution of the UNBL was blessed and sanctioned by the Auxiliary Bishop of New York.

1911

Helps launch Catholic Medical Mission Board

Fr. Paul wrote in The Lamp in the Spring of 1914: …many of the instruments and out of date apparatus discarded by hospitals and physicians in private practice, if sent to the needy missions in the Far East, would be a source of great joy and the means of saving precious lives. In the following years, The Lamp continued to be a source of publicity and support for Catholic Medical Mission Board.

1914

Our Lady of the Atonement

Father Paul of Graymoor had a long and deep devotion to Mary, Mother of Christ. Later, this devotion led Fr. Paul to give the title Our Lady of the Atonement to the Blessed Mother. On April 10, 1919, Pope Benedict the XV, approved the title and feast of Our Lady of the Atonement.

1919

UNBL

The Union-That-Nothing-Be-Lost was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York with the following object: A missionary and charitable organization cooperating with the Society of the Atonement for the purpose of corporal works of mercy and salvation of souls. Members were to commit to self-denial and holy simplicity of living, so that nothing would be lost in tending to the sick and the poor and in bringing the Kingdom of God to others.

1919

Helps Found Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Fr. Paul helps to co-found the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and is incorporated in 1924. The purpose of CNEWA was to promote unity between Christians of the Near East and the See of Peter and to provide food, clothing and shelter for the orphans and homeless of Greece.

1923

Launches Ave Maria Hour

The Ave Maria Radio Hour was a show that presented professionally acted radio dramas of the lives of the saints, the life of Christ and stories from the Gospels. It was heard over some 350 stations and 400 more through the facilities of the Armed Forces Radio Service. Starting in 1935, these shows were recorded in a studio in New York City and on the grounds of Graymoor. These historical dramatizations received many awards for religious radio programs sponsored by the American Exhibition of Educational Radio and Television programs of Ohio State University. It received the Golden Bell Award in 1959, presented on live television by Ed Sullivan.

1935

Death of Father Paul of Graymoor

At 4am, Thursday, February 8, 1940 at Graymoor, the day after Ash Wednesday, Fr. Paul suffered a heart attack while in bed and died a few hours later at the age of 77.

1940

Formal Opening of the Cause for Canonization by the Archdiocese of 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.

2015

Cause for Canonization Moves to Rome

On March 9, 2017, at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan, documents and artifacts illustrating the holiness of the life of Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor were sealed for shipment to Rome.

2017