VATICAN CITY – On December 18, 2017, Pope Francis declared Father Patrick Peyton, founder of Family Rosary Crusade and Family Theater Productions, venerable.
Father Peyton was born on January 9, 1909 in County Mayo, Ireland to very devout parents who prayed the rosary together as a family every day and instilled the faith well within their children. After a few failed attempts to become priest, Peyton and his older brother Thomas decided to go to America to sell real estate. His father told them, “Go down on your knees and make me a promise here before the picture of the Sacred Heart. From now on there will be nobody but yourself to advise you and to decide for you. But your first responsibility will always be to save your soul, and so I want you to promise to be faithful to Our Lord in America.”
They sailed to America in May 1928 and settled in Scranton, PA with an older sister. Peyton and his brother entered the novitiate with the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Notre Dame, IN in 1932. He was ordained on June 15, 1941 with his brother.
The devotion to the rosary that was instilled in Father Patrick Peyton from a young age followed him into his priesthood and he began a mission to spread the devotion to families, writing to bishops, lay Catholics, and even non-Christians of the importance of the Family Rosary. He utilized film, radio, outdoor advertising, television, with the help of celebrities, artists, and advertisers to spread his message. Father Peyton was one of the first pioneers of using mass media to evangelize.
Father Peyton organized Rosary Crusades which were rallies where hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people would gather to pray the Rosary together. These rallies were duplicated around the world.
Father Peyton said of the Rosary, “The rosary is the offensive weapon that will destroy Communism—the great evil that seeks to destroy the faith.” Through his advertising for the Family Rosary, Father Peyton popularized the slogan, “The family that prays together, stays together.”
Father Peyton died on June 3, 1992 holding a Rosary in San Pedro, CA. His remains were brought to the Holy Cross Cemetery on the grounds of Stonehill College in Easton, MA.
Father Peyton is remembered for his Sunday televised shows where he promoted the Rosary and devotion to Mary. He also encouraged businesses to start making and selling mass amounts of Rosaries, which he would distribute freely to Filipinos living in slums. Father Peyton’s legacy lives on through his foundations the Family Rosary Crusade, Family Theater Productions, Family Rosary International, and the Fr. Patrick Peyton Family Institute.
You can learn more about Fr. Peyton at the website dedicated to chronicling his life and legacy, the Father Peyton Family Institute, and Family Theater Productions.