Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Film Chronicles Life and Legacy of Father Patrick Peyton, ‘The Rosary Priest’

The life of Father Patrick Peyton, an Irish-American priest who traveled the world hosting hundreds of Rosary rallies and encouraging families to pray together, is the subject of a new film now available for online purchase.

The documentary-style film “PRAY: The Story of Patrick Peyton,” includes footage of Father Peyton, who lived from 1909-1992, as well as interviews with those who knew him.

It is produced by a company of Father Peyton’s own founding, Family Theater Productions, which provides community for Hollywood Catholics and produces family-friendly content. One of its most recent films includes “The Dating Project,” and the program Catholic Central provides short, informative films geared toward young people.

During his life, Father Peyton became well known as a passionate advocate for the Rosary and family prayer; “the family that prays together stays together” became one of his signature phrases.

“Father Peyton has the ability through his message and through his intercession to work on the level of our individual families, but also to work worldwide,” Father David S. Marcham, vice postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton and director of the Father Peyton Guild, told CNA in 2018.

Father Peyton made use of TV and radio broadcasts to spread his message encouraging family prayer and the Rosary.

Father Peyton, who was born and raised in County Mayo, Ireland, grew up praying the Rosary with his family. As a young man, he had a strong desire to be a religious priest, but was rejected by several orders. He then decided to move to Scranton, Pa., and sell real estate. His father made him promise to remain faithful to God.

Unable to find employment in his desired field, Father Peyton was hired as a janitor by the local cathedral, and his dreams of priesthood were reawakened. He entered Holy Cross Minor Seminary in 1929 to become a missionary priest.

In 1938, Father Peyton had professed temporary vows with the Holy Cross order but had not yet been ordained when he was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis. He was encouraged by a priest and mentor to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for a cure. By 1939, he was sure he had been cured, and his health returned. In 1941, Father Peyton was ordained a priest. Because of his miraculous recovery, which he credited to the intercession of Mary, he felt called to spread devotion to the Blessed Mother.

After World War II ended, Father Peyton began a radio show in New York to pray in thanksgiving for peace. His show reached wide audiences with his passionate calls for family prayer, and it featured prominent public figures, from President Harry Truman to New York’s Archbishop Spellman. A strong proponent of the Rosary and a firm believer in its power, Father Peyton had each guest pray the Rosary for the world to hear.

The show even attracted contemporary film star Bing Crosby, a Catholic who frequently played a priest on screen.

“With [Crosby’s] name on it, it really got the nation’s attention,” Father Willy Raymond told CNA in 2018. Father Raymond is the current Holy Cross Family Ministries president and previous director of Family Theater Productions, both founded by Father Peyton. Father Peyton’s radio and then television and film projects also included stars like Grace Kelly, Ronald Reagan, Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra.

Along with promoting prayer in his radio shows, Father Peyton held more than 500 “Rosary Rallies” around the world – from Peru to the Philippines to Papua New Guinea – earning him the title “The Rosary Priest.” According to his obituary in the New York Times, Father Peyton traveled to six continents, and his evangelization programs are thought to have reached an estimated 27 million people.

After years of promoting the Rosary, Father Peyton’s health was failing and he went to live with the Little Sisters of the Poor in California. He died at the age of 83 on June 3, 1992. His last words were “Mary, My Queen, My Mother.”

In 2017, Pope Francis recognized the heroic virtues of Father Peyton, declaring him “Venerable.” The priest’s information is currently under review for further advancement toward canonization.

(For information about the film, visit www.praythefilm.com/.)

Catholic News Agency

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