Over a century ago, Fr. Paul Wattson, the founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, was searching for a name for a new religious society. Opening the scriptures at random, his eyes fell upon the eleventh verse of the fifth chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans: “…we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” The last word of the verse stood out with a vividness that was to him overwhelming at-one-ment. And so, the Society had found its name.
Headquartered at Graymoor in Garrison, New York, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement is a Roman Catholic religious community with social, ecumenical, and pastoral ministries in the United States, Canada, England, Italy, and Japan. Since its inception in 1898, reconciliation through atonement—the unity of men and women with God and with one another—has been the mission of the Friars’ work and ministries to people of every race, religion, and walk of life.The social ministries of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement serve the poor, the needy, and the homeless, people living with AIDS, those in hospitals and prisons, and people seeking recovery from alcoholism and chemical dependency. The ecumenical work makes them leaders of the international movement to heal the divisions within Christianity and among all faiths. Finally, their pastoral ministry is the vigorous outreach that brings atonement to diverse peoples worldwide.
The Centro Pro Unione, founded and directed by the Society of the Atonement, is an ecumenical research and action center. Its purpose is to give space for dialogue, to be a place for study, research and formation in ecumenism: theological, pastoral, social and spiritual. The Centro was inaugurated in 1968 and is situated in the heart of Rome, Piazza Navona, in the historic and beautiful Collegio Innocenziano, belonging to the Doria Pamphilj family. It consists of a library of three rooms, a meeting room and a large conference hall for annual conferences on ecumenism.