Founder of Christian Unity Week

Since today begins the week of prayer for Christian Unity, it’s a good opportunity to mention one of its founders, Father Paul Wattson (1863-1940). The son of an Episcopal priest, he was ordained in 1885. Over the years he felt a growing call to the religious life. In 1898 he and Lurana Mary White, an Episcopal nun, founded a community based at Graymoor Chapel in upstate New York. Named the Society of the Atonement, its purpose was to work Anglican-Catholic reunion. It was based on the Third Order Franciscan Rule. All the while he was moving closer to Rome as he publicly declared his belief in papal infallibility and papal primacy. In 1909 his bishop advised him to “give up Anglican orders, make an unqualified submission to the Latin Church, and be a good Roman Catholic.” That year he and the entire Graymoor community were received into the Roman Catholic Church, the first time this had taken place since the Reformation.

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