Lurana White was raised in New York in a wealthy family of high church Episcopalians. While attending a boarding school run by an order of Episcopal sisters, she felt a strong attraction to religious life. With her family’s permission, she entered the order as a postulant. She was pained, however, that her Episcopal order did not take a corporate vow of poverty. At this time, she heard about an Episcopal priest, Paul Watson, who was promoting reunion between the Anglican communion and Rome. Eventually they met and vowed to found a new Episcopal order in the spirit of St. Francis: the Society of the Atonement. Watson understood atonement both in the sense of redemption as well as at-one-ment – the cause of Christian unity. As founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement, White became Mother Lurana. She and Watson established a new home on a site named Graymoor in Garrison, New York.
Fr. Watson’s enthusiasm for Rome faced increasing opposition within the Episcopal Church. Eventually, in 1909, he and Mother Lurana successfully petitioned the Vatican to accept their community into the Catholic Church.
The community grew rapidly. Graymoor became a center not only for retreats but also for hospitality to indigent people and the down-and-out. On one occasion, a priest came seeking the superiors of the sisters. Dubious when Mother Lurana introduced herself, he protested that surely she was too young. She replied, “That is one fault of mine which will be remedied in time.” She died on April 15, 1935.