Retreat at Graymoor

My friend Fred asked me over the summer if I'd like to tag along on the Secular Franciscan (i.e., Third Order) retreat at Graymoor in Garrison, New York in the Fall. Although I'm not in the third order, I have been interested in Graymoor both because the Society of Atonement friars have a chapel in Brockton I've visited for almost 20 years, and because of the Society's origins as an Episcopalian order which converted en masse to the Catholic many ways a forerunner of the Anglican Use. They were the first Western group received into full communion with the Catholic Church as a corporate body (there had, of course, been numerous Eastern churches which had blazed this path). So on Friday, October 17, a group of about 40 of us gathered at the Chapel of Our Savior near the Westgate Mall to begin our journey. After Mass, we boarded a bus (OK, after a two hour delay) and headed west.
The bell tower of the Chapel of St. Francis, the chapel that is part of the original friary, is a common symbol for Graymoor. Along with being the motherhouse of the order, Graymoor (also known as the Mount of the Atonement) is a center for ecumenical work, which is part of the founding charism of the Society of the Atonement.
Fr. Paul Wattson, the son of an Episcopalian clergyman, was ordained in the Episcopal Church following studies at the General Seminary in New York. He and a young socialite who corresponded with him felt led to work for Christian unity, and together founded the Society of the Atonement, a dual order of friars and sisters who adopted the rule of St. Francis in 1898.
The continuing work for Christian unity of Mother Lurana and Fr. Paul led them to seek unity under the Chair of St. Peter, and in 1908 they founded the Octave of Prayer for Church Unity, which runs from January 18, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, to January 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. One year later, the order was received into the Catholic Church by order of His Holiness Pope St. Pius X, and allowed to maintain their form of life.
WE arrived late on Friday, and after supper and a brief conference in the Chapel, we got to bed. Early the next morning, after praying the Office of the Dead for my grandmother, who died on October 18, 2008, I joined some of my fellow pilgrims to watch the sun rise over the hills east of the Hudson River.
One of the oldest items on the mount is the cross above which Fr. Paul fashioned from cedar branches to claim the mountain in the name of Christ. Graymoor now consists of 26 acres on the eastern bank of the Hudson.
Another much visited cross on the property is the "9/11" cross, fashioned from girders taken from the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City. Pieces were sent to various religious centers around the country, and this is situated in a meditation garden near the retreat center.
In the distance you can see the Hudson river nestled amongst the hills. The ruins are of St. Anthony's church, which had only the crypt built. The crypt church was used for many years, but lack of funds caused repairs to be put off, and now the building is but a shell.
Another small chapel on the mount is the Byzantine chapel. Several of the friars at one time had bi-ritual faculties, allowing them to celebrate Mass according to the Roman rite and one of the Eastern rites. Fred and I retired here in the early evening to chant Vespers.
A close up of the Byzantine altar.
St. Francis chapel is a classic chapel with rood screen, choir stalls and side altars. This is located in the original friary. The altar in this chapel is not the original one. It was replaced in 1926 with the altar that stood over the spot on Mount Alverna where St. Francis received the stigmata.
The statue of St. Francis over the altar is one of only two in the world created using the death mask of St. Francis.
A close-up of the face on the statue.
When it became clear that the money to complete St. Anthony's Church was not going to materialize, the friars under Fr. Paul constructed the outdoor shrine of St. Anthony. At the entrance to the grounds stands this altar of the Atonement.
St. Anthony's outdoor shrine. This was once a big draw during the warmer months, and the friars are planning to refurbish it so that it can again be used regularly.
A close-up of the altar at St. Anthony's Shrine. It is a beautiful, simple setting.
Surrounding the seats in the Shrine are outdoor Stations of the Cross.
The quest for the unity of Christians led Fr. Paul and the Society to institute the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. The week of prayer has gone through some name changes since the first one in 1908, but the goal of the week-long prayer remains the pray that "They may all be one." The poster above is from 1958.
Blessed Duns Scotus has a bit of history within my family circle. A Franciscan friar of great philosophical insight, his name was unfairly pressed into service during the height of anti-Catholicism in England by turning it into an insult for the foolish. I was pleased to find, not only this window in the Retreat house chapel, but also a book in the bookstore with the title Scotus for Dunces.
The Chapel of Our Savior in Brockton is where I first made the acquaintance of the friars, and I still visit here. This photo is from the Chapel's dedication in the late 1950s. Notice Cardinal Cushing seated to the left.
This intersection seemed just right as I reflected on Fr. Paul and Mother Lurana's journey and that of his spiritual heirs, the folk of the Anglican Use.
A converted air plane hanger that is used for Masses on Sunday when not only pilgrims and retreatants are present, but many people from the surrounding countryside.
A statue of Pope St. Pius X who approved the reception of the Society of the Atonement into the Catholic Church.
The tomb of Fr. Paul Wattson, behind the chapel of St. Francis.