Our Mission

The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement are a Roman Catholic order of brothers and priests founded in 1898 by Father Paul Wattson, SA at Graymoor in Garrison.  Since that time, the Friars have worked for reconciliation and healing through “at-one-ment” — the unity of men and women with God and with one another —  so that the prayer of Jesus “that they all may be one” might be fulfilled.  Through their mission and ministries they serve people of every race, religion, and walk of life. Their social ministries help the poor, the needy, and the homeless; people living with HIV; frail and elderly in hospitals and hospices; those in prison; and people seeking recovery from alcoholism and chemical addictions.  Their ecumenical work makes them leaders of the international movement to heal the divisions within Christianity and among all faiths.  Through their prayers and pastoral ministries, they bring spiritual renewal, unity, harmony, and reconciliation throughout the world and carry the Gospel message to three continents.

Friars History

On December 15, 1898, Lurana White and two companions traveled to Graymoor to look after the abandoned chapel of St. John in the Wilderness. Every year, the Friars and Sisters celebrate December 15th as Foundation Day. The communities began to grow very slowly in the Episcopal Church. Father Paul Wattson joined Sister Lurana White at Graymoor in the Spring of 1899, after making his novitiate with the Holy Cross Fathers in Maryland. He professed his vows as a Friar of the Atonement in June 1899, and took as his religious name Paul James Francis.

As time developed, the founders became more convinced that one of their major ministries was to pray and work for Christian Unity. By 1908, Father Wattson, along with a friend from England, the Reverend Spencer Jones, established the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. Today it is known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Father Founder would speak about the Octave in later years and say that "the first fruits of the Octave was the acceptance of the Society into the Roman Catholic Church" in 1909.

In 1910, with the building of the railroad along the Hudson River, men began to come looking for shelter. Father Paul offered the only place available, a chicken coop. The Founder always referred to these men as Brother Christophers —Christ Bearers. The small chicken coop turned into St. Christopher’s Inn. The Inn still serves Brother Christophers today.

As the number of Friars increased, they were sent out to the "missions," first to Texas and then to British Columbia. It was not until 1949 that the Friars first went to serve the people in Japan. Shortly afterwards, they opened the friary in Rome, Italy. In the late 1950s, they opened their first friary in England. In the 1960s, the Friars went to Brazil and Jamaica, West Indies. Today, the Friars serve in parishes in the United States, Canada, and England. They also serve in Ecumenical Ministry in the United States, Canada, England, Japan, and Italy. Friars serve in Social Ministry in the United States, Canada, England, and Japan. The Friars invite interested men to become members of their community.

St. Francis of Assisi

Father Daniel Callahan, SA, 3rd Councilor, is currently serving as Pastor of St. Joan of Arc Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Father Callahan, born in Buffalo, NY, made his final vows as an Atonement Friar in 1986.

Ordained in 1987, he served as the Associate Pastor of Christ the Redeemer in Sterling, VA, and of Church of the Reconciliation in Jamaica, West Indies. Father Callahan received his bachelor's degree from Boston University in 1977. He also holds a M.Div. from Catholic University in Washington, DC, (1985) and an M.A. in Healthcare Administration from Seton Hall University (2001). He is an MHA Credentials Healthcare Administrator, with expertise in Mission Integration. He served as Pastor of St. Odilia's Church in Los Angeles, CA. In 1996, he ministered to the chemically addicted at the friars' St. Joseph's Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake, NY. There he served on the executive team. He served as Vice President, Mission Services, for St. James Mercy Health System in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York. Father Dan also served on the boards of Uihlein Mercy Center Lake Placid, and Mercy Center in Tupper Lake NY. and was also a member of the Stewardship Committee of Catholic Health East, parent company for 150 hospitals and healthcare centers from Maine to Florida.

Nicknamed the "Iron Friar", Father Callahan is a highly accomplished tri-athlete. He has competed and completed 18 times in Ironman competitions these grueling 140.6-mile races consist in a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.4-mile run. In August 2014, he will compete in an Ironman challenge in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.

Father Joseph Di Mauro, SA
Presently, I am doing pastoral ministry and living at Graymoor, Garrison, NY. Pastoral ministry gives me the ability to be available for confession, spiritual direction, celebrating the Sacraments in various convents in the area, and conducting Days of Renewal and retreats and giving various talks and seminars. I have had this assignment for about six years.

My prior assignments have been at Graymoor, Garrison, NY; the Novitiate in Rhode Island; our Prep School at Montour Falls, NY; Rome, Italy; London, England; Lumberton, NC; and Brockton, MA.

Living and ministering on the Holy Mountain, Graymoor is a blessing. A blessing both for me and for the many who come asking for ministry of one kind or another.

Sometimes I think people suspect that all that I do takes place here at Graymoor .  What makes me think this is a simple reality. People will come and ask for me and become very disappointed when I am not here. So where am I and what do I do when away from Graymoor.

Recently I spoke to about 150  Knights of Columbus and their families. The occasion was the Brendan E. Toohey Memorial Mass and Breakfast which took in a local parish. As Guest Speaker, I spoke on the FAMILY. Received a great deal of very positive feed back. This pleased me very much because The Family is one reality that does not seem to be appreciated by many people today.

Next week, I give two talks and celebrate Mass for a community of Sisters who are having a community wide Day of Renewal.  I will speak of the Virtues Adding Us to Live in a Religious Community.

Lay people, priests, religious often benefit from the ministry done off the Holy Mountain.

Later this month, I will celebrate Mass in a Womens’ Correctional Facility. The homily ,besides speaking of the Gospel, becomes an excellent way of teaching, encouraging, affirming the women.

All this is held together by prayer. Celebrating Mass and Praying the Divine Office with the friars here as well as the times I take during the day for personal prayer. Prayer and ministry is the foundation out of which we Friars respond to the many needs which are presented to us.

I can be reached at: 

Father John J. Keane, SA presently serves as Associate Director of the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in Garrison, New York.

Father Keane was born August 1, 1935, in Philadelphia, PA. After completing studies as St. Pius X Seminary (affiliated with New York State University) and Atonement Seminary (affiliated with the Catholic University of America), he was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1962.

Soon after ordination, he went to Japan, working there for 18 years as Pastor of parishes in Kawasaki, Yokohama and Tajimi cities as Regional Superior for his Community. In 1974, Father Keane received a Masters Degree in Theology from the University of Ottawa, Canada, where he completed a thesis entitled "The Kami (Divinity) Concept: A Basis for Understanding and Dialogue," which was published in 1980 as a series of five articles in The Japan Missionary Bulletin. They were reprinted later in the year as a monograph by the Oriens Institute for Religious Research in Tokyo.

Returning to the United States in 1980, Father Keane was assigned to the following ministries:

  • In 1980, as a Newman Center Chaplain to students at Howard University in Washington, DC;
  • In 1983, as Ecumenical and Interreligious Director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, CA, during which time the Jewish Community of San Francisco honored him with the annual Freedom Award in 1989;
  • In 1991, a sabbatical year at the School of Applied Theology in Oakland, CA;
  • In 1992, he filled in temporarily for one year as Newman Center Chaplain at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA, and as Ecumenical and Interreligious Director for the Diocese of Stockton, CA;
  • In 1993, as Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church, Seaside, CA, a multicultural parish with a large Hispanic population, as Ecumenical and Interreligious Director for the Diocese of Monterey Bay;
  • In 1998, full time ministry as Ecumenical and Interreligious Director for the Diocese of Sacramento, CA, until 2002,
  • He served on the General Council from 1999-2009,
  • He served in Formation Ministry for the Friars, as Director of a Postulant Program in Washington, DC, for North American candidates,
  • He was Director of the prestigious Paul Wattson Lecture and Seminar Series at the University of San Francisco, a post he has held for 30 years.

Father Keane was a member of the National Association for Diocesan Ecumenical Officers (NADEO) Faiths in the World Committee from 1984 to 1988 and he participated in the preparation of the second revised edition of the Handbook for Interreligious Dialogue, to which he contributed an article on Japanese religious traditions. His most recent article appears inThe Japan Mission Journal, Winter issue (2005), entitled "Religious Influences in the (Japanese) Tea Ceremony." He has written another article in One in Christ, Vol. 41, No. 2, April, 2006, concerning the Second Vatican Council Decree on Religious Freedom and its impact upon ecumenical and interreligious work for the Roman Catholic Church.

On May 9, 2006, the Executive Board of the National Association for Diocesan Ecumenical Officers bestowed on Father Keane the Annual James Fitzgerald Award for Ecumenism during its annual meeting in San Jose for "outstanding contribution and services in the work of Christian Unity."

Father Keane is an avid baseball fan and he closely follows the Philadelphia Phillies. He has found that baseball is a convenient topic that is always available when ecumenical and/or interreligious energies seem to flounder with friends representing other Christian Churches and/or Faith Traditions.

You can contact Father Keane at:

Watch a video of Father Keane's Interview with Father John Higgins on the Assumption Church’s public access TV show,
Catholic Peekskill

I am Brother Charles Kenney, SA. I am living at Graymoor, Garrison, NY. I am working at St. Christopher's Inn, which is a homeless shelter and alcohol / drug rehabilitation facility for men. I have been working here for the past ten years. St. Christopher's Inn is important because it gives men an opportunity to turn their lives around and away from addiction. There is a spiritual dimension which St. Christopher's Inn has.

I entered the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in July, 1962. My First Vows were in July, 1965. My Final Vows were in August, 1971.

Over the years, I have been assigned to various ministries. I ehlped to operate a large heating and steam plant here at Graymoor and did Maintenance work at Graymoor. I spent several years in pastoral ministry at St. Anthony's Church in Hereford, Texas. For seven years, I worked at New Hope Manor, a drug rehabilitation program. I did nine years in pastoral / social ministry in Jamaica, W.I. before coming to St. Christopher's Inn.

I think of myself as being a patient person. The grace and goodness of the Lord has sustained me over these years. The reason I joined the Friars of the Atonement was to be able to experience some kind of missionary ministry which had an ecumenical dimension to it. I hope that the various ecumenical ministries that the Friars are engaged in will continue to grow in the future, and I hope that the Church will grow, especially in places where there are few missionaries.

I can be reached at: 

Father James Loughran, SA. Elected in 20014 Vicar General & First Councilor, Father James Loughran, S.A., is currently Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII), a ministry of the friars located in New York, NY, and editor of its monthly journal, Ecumenical Trends.

Father Loughran was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, and earned his B.A. at the University of Lowell (now UMASS at Lowell). He professed final vows in 1986. Upon completion of a M.Div. at the Catholic University of America, he was ordained a priest 1989. He served the Friars' parish near Kingston, Jamaica, also working with the Ecumenical Commission of the Archdiocese of Kingston. Later, he served as parochial vicar at Christ the Redeemer parish in Sterling, Virginia. From 1994 to 2001, Father Loughran was involved in the ecumenical and interreligious life of New York City, serving as Director of the Archdiocesan Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for John Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York. He has taught in parishes, at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, and has given many lectures in ecumenical settings and at synagogues. He is a member of the national United States dialogue between the Catholic Bishops Conference and the three main Jewish denominations and has been a part of the international dialogue conducted between the Holy See and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

I am Brother Gregory Lucrezia, SA. I entered the Community on Sept. 30, 1960, professed my first Vows in 1963 and my Final Vows in 1967. Prior to entering the community, I was a High School Student and a part time Hospital Worker in St. John's Hospital in Yonkers. It was because of my involvement in Hospital Work that I spent many years in the community working as a Nurse here in the Graymoor Infirmary and St. Christopher's Inn, our Temporary Shelter for Homeless Men.

Upon first profession in 1963, my first assignment was to the switchboard at Graymoor. In 1966, I went to school for Practical Nursing. Following this in 1967, I was assigned to our infirmary, where I cared for many elder Friars. From 1973 until 1993, I was assigned to St. Christopher's Inn (our shelter for homeless men) where I did nursing for 15 years and then from 1988 to 1993, I was the Director. From 1993 to 1995, I was the Director of the Hawthorne House (a residential half way house in White Plains, NY. I was then sent to our infirmary again to work with the elder infirmed Friars. In 1996, several of our Friars were transferred to Resurrection Nursing Home in Castleton, NY. It gave us a good place to bring our Friars to get the care they needed. I went with them tosupervise and assist in their care. I remained there until our General Chapter in 1999 and then returned to Graymoor, where in addition to my Council and Secretary General Duties, I am the Health Care coordinator for the Community. My work keeps me busy, but knowing that I am involved with the Friar's ministry, it gives me an incentive to keep active.

I had thought of the Religious life during my high school years and eventually applied to Graymoor and was accepted a few weeks later. Many of us are still working together in various ministries throughout the Society. I came to the Friars because I felt called by God to this kind of ministry. With the changes of Vatican II, many of us became involved in proclaiming and spreading the atonement charism in different ways. I believe in the Friars of the Atonement. Even though change has taken place and will continue to take place, I believe our mission is to all people. Much is being done and I want to be a part of it. Our vision includes looking at possibilities in Africa and in other places, and we have just begun a new foundation in Assisi. If it is God's will, I would consider one of them. I have ministered for 47 years in the States, and would like to spend at least a couple of years somewhere else. I feel that I have answered the call of God and have tried to do His work, both with the marginated who came to the Inn and with the Friars who were infirmed and needed care. At this time, we try to care for the infirmed at Graymoor if possible and when they are not able to be cared for here, we try to place them in a Religious Nursing Facility where they will be treated with love and dignity. We would hope more young men would come to join us in our ministry. We need you.

I can be contacted through the Friars of the Atonement, P.O. Box 300, Graymoor, Garrison, New York 10524 (845-424-3671) or via e-mail at: 

Currently, Father Timothy MacDonald, SA is associate director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, a position he has held since 2006.

Father MacDonald, was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. He entered the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in 1958, was professed in 1960, and ordained in 1967. Early in his career he served as associate pastor at St. Anthony Parish in Hereford, TX. He received an M.A. in theology from Boston University and then served as assistant editor of the friars' publication, The Lamp. In 1971 he was appointed administrator of the newly founded Church of Atonement in Windsor, Ontario. Later he assumed the directorship of the Graymoor Christian Unity Center. After earning a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Marquette University, he served as director of novices and in 1986 was named Rector of the Church of S. Onofrio, Vatican City. In 1987 became associate director of the Centro Pro Unione - the friars' center in Rome, which focuses on ecumenical studies. In 1990, he served as ecumenical director for the Archdiocese of Halifax and in 1994 was named the ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Toronto. He also served as pastor of the Church of the Atonement in Windsor, Ontario, and served at Christ the Redeemer Church in Sterling. VA, and St. Joan of Arc Parish in Toronto, Ontario. In 2006, he was named associate director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute.

Father Elias Mallon, SA, is the External Affairs Officer for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) which supports charitable, educational, health and development projects in the Middle East, Ethiopia, eastern Europe and southern India .He has worked at Franciscans International and the United Nations. He is primarily engaged in issues of interreligious cooperation for conflict transformation and peace building. Father Mallon also works with issues of peace and justice in the Middle East, while at the same time remaining engaged in lectures and educational programs in different organizations, institutions, and dioceses in the United States.

Father Mallon entered the Novitiate of the Friars of the Atonement at Saranac Lake, NY, in 1962 and was professed the following year. He attended the friars' college, St. Pius X, at Graymoor. After graduating in 1967, he studied theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he earned a Licentiate in Theology (STL) in Old Testament studies and a PhD in Near Eastern Languages. Father Mallon was ordained in 1971.

For five years, Father Mallon worked and did dissertation research at Eberhard-Karls Univeristät in Tübingen, Germany, where Hans Küng, Cardinal Walter Kasper, and Pope Benedict XVI taught at various times. For several years Father Mallon taught Old Testament and Near Eastern Languages at several institutions, including the University of Washington in Seattle. Afterwards Father Mallon represented the then Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity (now the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) as a faculty member of the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Bossey, Switzerland. For fourteen years, Father Mallon served at the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, ten of them as director.

He is a frequent blogger for CNEWA’s ‘One-to-One’. 

Recent Articles by Father Elias: 
St. Anthony Messenger Magazine - "Where There is Hatred ... Let Me Sow Your Love" - A few miles from Ground Zero, Franciscan Friar Elias Mallon works to build respect among Christians and Muslims. - March 2013. Read >>

America-the national Catholic weekly magazine published by the Jesuits – “When Democracy is Not Enough” - Democracy in Egypt cannot work until a notion of citizenship is enshrined in law and practice.  Read >>

Anyone who has visited the Chapel of Our Savior in Brockton, MA in the past two years is very familiar with the smiling face of Brother Savio McNeice, SA as they entered the Bookstore. His welcome is something difficult to forget. He is always ready to listen to others and learn about their lives. However, I doubt if many know much about the life of Bro. Savio.

Bro. McNeice was born in Pittsfield, Mass. In 1936 and belonged to St. Charles Parish there until he left for Graymoor inn 1958. He made his first vows as a Friar of the Atonement on July 26, 1961.

During the two years he trained as a Religious at the novitiate in Cumberland, RI, he also trained as a chef and most of the first part of his ministry as a Friar of the Atonement was spent preparing meals for friars and guests as well as teaching other friars how to cook. During this part of his ministerial life, Bro. McNeice spent 10 years at Graymoor, NY; 5 years at St. Joseph's Novitiate in Saranac Lake, NY; and finally 7 years at the seminary in Washington, D.C.

A big change in ministry came when Bro. McNeice was assigned to help the Sisters of the Atonement in downtown Vancouver, B.C. in their ministry with the poor and homeless. He spent 18 years in this ministry and all during that time was able to show his great love for the poor. If ever you want to bring a tear to Bro. McNeice's eyes ask him about the cat, "Gussie" whom he lived with in Vancouver.

For the past two and a half years Bro. McNeice has been the one-man welcoming committee for the Chapel at the Westgate Mall. In his ministry here he has touched the lives of many people who are grateful for his ministry.

Father Bernard Palka, SA, 2nd Councilor, was born in Hempstead, NY, in 1944. He took final vows as a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement in 1968 and was ordained at Graymoor in 1972.

He earned his B.A. from Pius X College in Washington, DC. He graduated with an M.A. in Psychology from Catholic University of America as well as with an M.A. in Theology from St. Paul College, both in Washington, DC. He worked in the Ecumenical Office of South Bend, Indiana. From 1972-1977, Father Palka was assigned to the drug rehabilitation program at New Hope Manor, Graymoor. A Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC), Father Palka served as Program Director at the friars' St. Joseph Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake for over a decade. In 1992, Father Palka was named executive director of Hawthorne House in White Plains, NY, a halfway house offering care to persons in the early stages of recovery from alcoholism. He served as Executive Director of St. Christopher's Inn from 1993 to 2011.

Father Palka has been Chaplain for the Connecticut Department of Corrections serving four facilities since 2012. In addition to various pastoral assignments in the United States, Father Palka was Treasurer General for the Friars from 1995-2001.

Father James F. Puglisi, SA, is director of the Centro Pro Unione, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, which is an ecumenical research and action center in Rome.

Father Puglisi entered the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in 1964, was professed in 1966, and ordained to the priesthood in 1973. He holds doctorates in Theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris and Religious Anthropology and the History of Religion from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. In addition to his duties at Centro, he is a professor of ecumenical theology at the Pontifical Atheneum, San Anselmo, Rome; the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas; and the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Venice. He also serves on the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission for Rome.

Except for a brief period, most of Father Puglisi's career has been spent at the Centro Pro Unione in Rome where he has served since 1973. In 1991, he was named director of the Centro Pro Unione, a position he still holds.

Father Charles Sharon, SA, 4th General Councilor, most recently served as Secretary General and 3rd General Councilor. Father Sharon was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1944. He professed his final vows in 1968 and was ordained in June of 1972. He attended St. Pius Seminary at Graymoor and Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he received his B.A. degree in Philosophy. He studied theology at Paulist College in Washington D.C. His ministries have included service in parishes in Richmond, B.C., Canada, and in Brockton and Medford, Massachusetts. A state-certified alcoholic and substance abuse counselor, he served as an Alcoholism Counselor at St. Christopher's Inn, and later received a Masters in Social Work from New York University, becoming a New York State certified Social Worker, and. He continued to serve as Chaplain and Social Worker for St. Christopher's Inn. Father Sharon studied as an intern at the National Council of Churches in New York City in the office of "Ecumenical Networks." From 1991 to 1995, he worked at the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute where he focused on Social Ecumenism. He was Executive Director for the Halfway Houses of Westchester from 1993 to 1999. Father Sharon currently is a member of the Board of Directors for St. Christopher's Inn and St. Joseph's Rehabilitation Center at Saranac Lake, NY.

Since 2006, he has been Associate Treasurer for the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and has served as Personnel Director for the last 10 years. He is General Council liaison for the health care committee at Graymoor.

Elected in 2014, current Minister General V. Rev. Brian F. Terry, SA has been Novice Director in Assisi for the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement since 2005. A native of Washington, DC, he received his habit in 1989. Father Terry was ordained to the priesthood in 1997. He had earned his B.A. in Psychology and Theater from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and began his theological studies at Pontificia Università Gregoriana. At the Pontificio Ateneo Sant'Anselmo, he completed his license and doctorate in Sacramental Theology with an interdisciplinary study on the psychology and theology of dialogue in the Rite of Penance.

In addition to his present work with friars in formation, he is an invited professor of Ecumenism at the Angelicum, Rome. He began his ministerial life as a Youth Minister at St. Luke's Parish, McLean, Virginia, before entering the Order.

I am Brother Liam Young, SA. My present assignment is at Graymoor, handling the Mass request of our benefactors. I came to the Society of the Atonement by way of Philadelphia, Pa. I attended local parochial schools, St. Columba Grammar School, Roman Catholic High School and graduated 1950.

I entered the community in 1955, receiving first vows in 1958, final vows in 1963. My Silver Jubilee was celebrated in 1983 and my Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 2005.

Down through the years, my service has been mainly in administration, with the exception of several years at one of our former missions, Our Lady of the Atonement Mission in Kinston, North Carolina. I found this assignment very rewarding, with the struggle for civil rights taking place during this period of time.

My many administration assignments have included:

  • Secretary to the Director of the Chair of Unity Octave currently called Graymoor Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Institute.
  • Procurator at the former St. John's Minor Seminary in Montour Falls, New York located in the Finger Lakes area.
  • Our Lady of the Atonement Mission Church, Kingston, North Carolina.
  • Office Manager of our present Benefactor Service Processing.
  • Assistant Superior and Administrator at our major seminary in Washington, D.C., Holy Ghost Seminary.
  • Manager of the Graymoor Religious Article Shop.
  • On the staff at the Catholic Ecumenical Library, London, England.
  • Procurator at St. Paul's Friary. Planned Giving in Community Development Department.
  • Manager of the Graymoor Book Store.

I thought about entering religious life while spending a period of time serving in the U. S. Army during the Korean conflict. I was spared any of the military combat action that had taken place prior to my arriving in South Korea. I had been in contact with the vocational director before being discharged. It was the Friars' Ave Maria Hour, their work at St. Christopher's Inn and their many other apostolates that attracted me to the community. They fulfilled my desire to be associated with a Franciscan Community.

My years of service have been ones bursting with energy, making the most of what comes my way and using my talents to the fullest. Having served in various ministries of the community and in internal service to the Friars, I realize that much is due to the faith and devotion of my parents, to my family and relatives and friends in supporting me through all of these years in God's Service in furthering his Kingdom here on Earth. For this I am most grateful.

You can contact me at: 

St. Francis of Assisi

Born around 1181, Francis was one of several children of Pietro Bernardone, a wealthy merchant, and his wife Pica, who may have come from a noble French family.

Handsome and witty, Francis spent his youth pursuing extravagant pleasures. When he was about twenty, Francis joined his fellow townsmen to fight the Perugians in one of the petty skirmishes common at the time. On this occasion, the Assisians were defeated, and Francis was held captive for more than a year in Perugia. While it is likely he began his conversion here, upon his return to Assisi, Francis resumed his carefree ways.

In 1204, a serious illness led to his spiritual crisis. After recovering, Francis attempted to join the papal forces against Frederick II in late 1205. On his journey, he had a dream that convinced him to return to Assisi and await the call to a new kind of knighthood. After this, he dedicated himself to solitude and prayer so that he might learn God’s will for him.

Several other episodes also contributed to his devotion, among them an incident in which he not only gave alms to a leper, whom he considered repugnant, but also kissed his hand.

However, according to his first biographer, Thomas of Celano, the most important event occurred at the ruined chapel of San Damiano outside the gate of Assisi when Francis heard the crucifix above the altar command him: “Go, Francis, and repair my house which, as you see, is falling down.” Taking this literally, Francis hurried home, gathered fine cloth from his father’s shop, and rode off to a nearby town, where he sold both the cloth and the horse. He then tried to give the money to the priest at San Damiano, who refused it. This prompted Francis to throw the money out the window. When his father heard about this, he was angered and summoned him before the civil authorities. When Francis didn’t respond, his father called him before the bishop of Assisi. Before the bishop, Francis “without a word peeled off his garments even removing his breeches and restored them to his father.” Completely naked, he said, “Until now I have called you my father on earth. But henceforth I can truly say: Our Father who art in heaven.” The astonished bishop gave him a cloak, and Francis went off to the woods of Mount Subasio above the city.

Thereafter, Francis renounced worldly goods and family to embrace a life of poverty. Preaching to townspeople — even though he was still a layperson and was not authorized to do so — he soon attracted followers. In 1209, he composed for his mendicant brothers a simple rule drawn from passages in the Bible: “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps.” He then led his friars to Rome to seek the approval of Pope Innocent III. This was an important step that demonstrated Francis’s recognition of papal authority. The pope approved the Franciscan rule of life, according to tradition, on April 16, 1209. The Friars Minor, or Lesser Brothers, as they came to be known, were street preachers without possessions. They preached and worked first in Umbria and then, as their numbers grew, throughout Italy.

During Lent of 1212, a wealthy young noblewoman, upon hearing Francis preaching, became deeply touched by his message. Realizing her calling, Clare begged Francis to allow her to embrace the new manner of life he had founded. On Palm Sunday, Francis received Clare at the Porziuncola, thereby establishing the Order of Poor Ladies, later called Poor Clares.

Determined to bring the Gospel to all, Francis, on several occasions, sought to spread the Word beyond Italy, but circumstances prevented him.

Finally, in 1219, Francis, along with a few of his followers, embarked on a peaceful journey to Egypt, where he preached to the Sultan al-Kamil. While not convinced to convert, the Sultan, it is said, was impressed and allowed him to visit the sacred sites in the Holy Land.

At Christmastime, 1223, Francis displayed the first known crèche in the town of Greccio, near Assisi. Wishing to reveal the authenticity of Christ’s birth, the story goes, he brought in a manger, hay, an ox, and an ass. When all was ready, people from around the valley were “filled with joy” at what they saw, and Greccio was made, as it were, “a new Bethlehem.”

In the summer of 1224, Francis went to the mountain retreat of Alvernia, not far from Assisi. During this time of reflection and fasting, he prayed that he might know how best to please God. Opening the Gospels for the answer, he came upon references to the Passion of Christ three times. As he prayed during the morning of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14, he beheld a figure coming toward him from the heavens. It was here that Francis became the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. As St. Bonaventure, minister general of the Franciscans from 1257 to 1274 and a leading theologian of the 13th century, described:

As it stood above him, he saw that it was a man and yet a Seraph with six wings . . . Pondering what this vision might mean, he finally understood that by God’s providence he would be made like to the crucified Christ not by a bodily martyrdom but by conformity in mind and heart. Then as the vision disappeared, it left not only a greater ardour of love in the inner man but no less marvelously marked him outwardly with the stigmata of the Crucified.

In constant pain and almost totally blind from an eye disease contracted while in the Middle East, Francis lived for two more years. Medical treatment was unsuccessful, and after a stay at Siena, he was brought back to Assisi, where he died on October 3, 1226. On July 15, 1228, after a process of unprecedented speed, Francis was canonized by Pope Gregory IX.

It is important to note that many of the stories surrounding the life of St. Francis deal with his love for animals and the natural world. The most famous of these, illustrating his humility towards nature, are recounted in the “Fioretti” (“Little Flowers”), a collection that appeared around the end of the 14th century. His “Canticle of the Sun,” a poem written perhaps in 1224 expresses a love and appreciation of Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Mother Earth, Brother Fire . . . and all of God’s creations.

Saint Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the environment. He and Catherine of Siena are the two patrons of Italy. His feast day is October 4.

St. Francis of Assisi

Father Paul Wattson, SA, Servant of God, Apostle of Christian Unity and charity

Father Paul was born on January 16, 1863 in Millington, Maryland, to Rev. Joseph Wattson and Mary Electa Wattson, and baptized Lewis Thomas Wattson. He was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1886. In 1898, in collaboration with an Episcopal sister, Lurana White, he helped to found the Society of the Atonement, taking vows of Franciscan poverty, obedience and chastity at Graymoor in Garrison, NY, with the mission of promoting Christian unity.

In 1899, the abandoned desecrated chapel of St. John’s in the Wilderness was found, cleaned and restored by three pious Anglican women inspired by the story of St. Francis restoring the Church of San Damiano. The women convince the Episcopal diocese in New York to rededicate the chapel. These women acquire the chapel and land which is named Graymoor.  Sister Lurana is invited to make the foundation for the Society of the Atonement there with Father Wattson.  Father Paul took Possession of the Graymoor Property on June 14, 1900, the Feast of Corpus Christi. He fashioned a heavy rough cross out of a tall cedar tree at the foot of the mountain and carries it to the summit. The Cross still stands for pilgrims to pray before. 

In 1908, Father Paul initiated the Church Unity Octave believing that a time set aside for prayer and seminars would hasten Christian unity. Advocates of corporate reunion between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, he and Mother Lurana White made a decision to become Roman Catholics. In 1909, the Society of the Atonement became the first religious community of Christians to be received corporately into the Roman Catholic Church since the Reformation. Father Paul was ordained a Catholic priest by Archbishop John M. Farley in 1910. 

Among his many achievements, Father Paul founded St. Christopher’s Inn, a refuge for homeless men. He published The Lamp, a monthly magazine devoted to Christian unity and the missions; he produced “The Ave Maria Hour”, a radio program that broadcasted stories about the life of Christ and the lives of the Saints around the world for several decades. 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 and was instrumental in helping to launch the Catholic Medical Mission Board. Today, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement continue his work on three continents.                                            

Father Paul was a builder of bridges with outstanding Christian virtues.  He was a true Franciscan who loved the poor.  He also loved the supreme gift God gave us in atonement, his only Son.


New Friary Project

Please be advised effective 9/15/14 the following areas will be closed for construction for at least 30 days or more.

  • 5th Floor Parking lot/Driveway
  • Holy Spirit Chapel
  • St. Francis Chapel
  • Tailor Shop

Emergency vehicles only will be permitted in these areas
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Graymoor is the headquarters of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement. In 1875, the rector of the Episcopal Church in Garrison erected a mission church called "St. John's In the Wilderness" about three miles from Garrison. In 1893, this abandoned and deteriorated church, was named "Graymoore" by three Anglican ladies who restored it. In the same year, Father Paul Wattson was inspired to name the Society he was to found "The Society of the Atonement." In 1898, Mother Lurana White and Father Paul sought Graymoor to become the foundation of their newly founded Society of the Atonement. In 1925, Father Paul wrote, "Since God has given the Friars of the Atonement so magnificent a mountain, we look upon it in the nature of a holy obligation to erect thereon monastic buildings harmonious with their surroundings."

Nestled in the hills of the Hudson River in Putnam County, 50 miles north of New York City, Graymoor's picturesque grounds, shrines and chapels are open year round for the public and people of all faiths to enjoy. From the summit of Mount Atonement, marvel at the sweeping vista and the beauty of a replica of Michelangelo's Pieta. A few steps away find the tranquility of the St. Francis Chapel, with its altar that once marked the spot where St. Francis of Assisi received his holy stigmata in 1224.

Each June, thousands of pilgrims come to Graymoor's St. Anthony Shrine to celebrate his feast day. Summer beck-ons others who come to picnic or to hike the Appalachian Trail, which crosses through miles of Graymoor's expansive grounds. Some visit to walk the outdoor labyrinth, pray, meditate or simply find peace.

Discover the Celebration of Spirit

Throughout the year, Graymoor Spiritual Life Center shares Franciscan hospitality and spirituality with hundreds through retreats, workshops, recovery programs and special events. Visitors come for Bible study, Centering Prayer, daily and Sunday Masses and the sacrament of Reconciliation.

While you are here, browse the large selection of books, gifts, cards and devotional items at Graymoor Book & Gift Center, Bethlehem Gift Shop, and hunt for the perfect find among the antiques and gently used goods and furnishings at That Nothing Be Lost Thrift Shop.

See Sites at Graymoor >>

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