Fire in the Night: The Life & Legacy of Father Paul of Graymoor

A biographical look at Father Paul Wattson, SA, founder of Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and Promoter of Christian Unity
Fire in the Night: The Life & Legacy of Father Paul of Graymoor
Fire in the Night: The Life & Legacy of Father Paul of Graymoor
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* Graymoor
* Paul Wattson
* Christian Unity
* Franciscan
* Rev. Joseph Scerbo

* Books
* Religion

* Garrison - New York - US

GARRISON, N.Y. - Jan. 28, 2014 - PRLog -- Rev. Joseph Scerbo, S.A., Ph.D., has written a book in honor of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement.  Fire in the Night: The Life and Legacy of Father Paul of Graymoor offers a biographical look at Father Paul Wattson, SA, and includes words from his writing and photos of the history of his efforts as a pioneer for Christian Unity.

“This book pulls together the key moments of the life and legacy of Father Paul Wattson,” said Rev. Scerbo. “He was a person with a broad vision and a long reach.  I wanted readers to be inspired by his life-call, and respond to the grace of God, as he did.  His whole purpose was to work and pray for the realization of Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper: “That they all may be one: as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…” (John 17:21)

Father Paul was born on January 16, 1863 in Millington, Maryland, 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 at Graymoor in Garrison, NY, with the mission of promoting Christian unity.

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. Fr. 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 and produced “The Ave Maria Hour”, a radio program that broadcasted stories about the life of Christ and the lives of the Saints. 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. Today, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement continue his work on three continents.

Very Reverend James F. Puglisi, S.A., Minister General of the order of Franciscan friars founded by Father Wattson said, “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.”

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said the book recognized the contributions of Father Paul Wattson to the Church and the New York Diocese. “The work of the Holy Spirit is evident in Father Paul’s tireless efforts toward Christian unity, support of missionary activity and loving care for those in need that continues today at St. Christopher’s Inn.”

Fire in the Night (ISBN# 978-2-7468-2950-3, Éditions du Signe, 2013) can be ordered by calling Graymoor Books and Gifts (845) 424-3671, ext. 3155 or by visiting


Rev. Joseph M. Scerbo, S.A., was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1970.  Reverend Scerbo is a member of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, two distinct religious communities dedicated to Christian Unity and inter-religious understanding, founded by Father Paul Wattson and Mother Lurana White.

He earned a Master of Teaching Science in Counseling Psychology from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and a Master of Arts in Theology from St. Paul's College, Washington, D.C. In 1983, Rev. Scerbo received his Ph.D, an interdisciplinary doctorate in Religion and the Personality Sciences from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He served as Academic Dean of Trinity College of Graduate Studies for sixteen years. He has been involved in campus ministry at Newman Centers at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Berkeley, and Los Angeles City College and also served as a Retreat Master at Graymoor, Garrison, N.Y.    He served as past President of the Catholic, ecumenical, and eucharistically-centered  (A.C.T) Association of Christian Therapists International ( A.C.T. is an organization of Christian health care professionals in the medical, therapeutic and pastoral-counseling fields who are open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and especially the gift of healing. He is currently at St. Paschal Baylon Catholic Church in Thousand Oaks, California. In 2002, he founded Junipero Serra Franciscan Center for Mercy & Reconciliation (  in Mission San Juan Capistrano. His recent  project includes a five-part television series produced by James Kelty celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Junipero Serra which will premiere on EWTN The Global Catholic Channel in November 2013.

The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement are a Roman Catholic order of brothers and priests founded in 1898 by Fr. 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. For more information about the friars, visit

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