The Very Rev. James Puglisi, S.A., Minister General for the Friars said, “John has faithfully supported the ecumenical ministries of the Atonement Friars for decades and has advanced scholarly discourse in the areas of contemporary ecumenism and theology. His demonstrated leadership in the areas of ecumenical dialogue, along with his contribution to the formation of many men and women at The Catholic University of America, make him highly deserving of this award.”
As part of the evening, Rev. Dr. Ford delivered a prepared talk on Paul Wattson and Ecumenism which will be included in an upcoming issue of Ecumenical Trends, a journal published by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, a ministry of the Friars.
A pioneer for Christian Unity and apostle of charity, Paul Wattson, S.A., Servant of God, began his life of ministry in the early 20th century as an American Episcopal priest. He founded the Society for the Atonement in the Franciscan tradition along with Mother Lurana White at Graymoor in Garrison, NY. Together, in 1908, they launched an eight-day octave of prayer for Christian unity, running from what was then the Feast of Peter on January 18 to the Feast of Paul on Jan. 25. From January 18-25, 1908, Fr. Paul and Mother Lurana celebrated the first Church Unity Octave, an eight-day period of prayers and seminars focusing on the cause of Christian unity. They wrote letters and articles encouraging others to pray with them “that all may be one … that the world may believe” (John 17:21). In 1909, the Franciscan Sisters and Friars of the Atonement entered the Catholic Church. In the late 1960s, the Octave was joined with other prayer movements to form what now is observed worldwide as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Rev. Dr. Ford, a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Studies at The Catholic University of America, Washington DC. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he received a Master’s degree in Theology from Holy Cross College (Washington, DC) and earned a licentiate and Doctorate in Theology at the Gregorian University (Rome). His areas of teaching and research include contemporary ecumenism, Hispanic/Latino Theology, and Nineteenth Century Theology with emphasis on the writings of John Henry Newman.
A past President of the North American Academy of Ecumenists, Rev. Dr. Ford has participated in the United Methodist‑Roman Catholic Dialogue and the Reformed‑Roman Catholic International Dialogue. He has also been an observer‑consultant at the Consultation on Church Union/Churches Uniting in Christ and served as a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. Currently as the chair of the Ecumenism Committee of the Washington Theological Consortium, he has published ecumenism-related articles in Call to Unity, The Christian Century, Ecumenical Review, Ecumenical Trends, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Religious Studies Review, etc., and is co‑editor with Dr. Darlis Swan of Twelve Tales Untold: A Study Guide for Ecumenical Reception (Eerdmans, 1993).
Rev. Dr. Ford is currently preparing a presentation on “Little Known Facts about Newman’s Anglican Years (1800-1845)” for the annual conference of the Newman Association of American (August 2014) and the Figel Lecture on Ecumenism for the Washington Theological Consortium (February 2015).
The Paul Wattson Christian Unity Award has been presented on twelve different occasions to ecumenists who have distinguished themselves. Previous recipients include Rev. Charles Boyer, S.J. (1961); Lawrence Cardinal Sheehan and Msgr. Joseph Nelligan (1964); Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. (1965); Dr. Martin Marty (1969); Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury (1972); International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission (1974); Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan (1975); Pere Yves Congar, O.P. (1984); Jan Cardinal Willebrands (1987); Jan Cardinal Willebrands and Rev. John F. Hotchkins, S.T.D. and Prof. George A. Lindbeck (2000);
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The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement are a Roman Catholic order of brothers and priests founded in 1898 by Fr. Paul Wattson, S.A., Servant of God, at Graymoor in Garrison. Since that time, the Friars have worked for reconciliation and healing through “at-one-ment”