REV. FR PATRICK PEYTON, WHO was known as the Rosary Priest, was declared Venerable on 18 December 2017 by Pope Francis.   He is not yet a canonized saint, but we can learn a lot from him, so I will give a brief account of his life.

 He was born in Mayo, Ireland on 9 January 1909.  He was the sixth of nine children in  a very dedicated Catholic  family. They were poor but their faith was   strong.  Every evening the mother called them all together for the Rosary which the father led with great  reverence.  Later on Fr. Patrick said, "Prayer was as much part of the life of my father as the  air he breathed."    As  a young boy, Patrick  was impressed by the example of his parish priest  and he wished to become a priest himself.   When he was a teenager he applied to  a number of Religious Orders but he was not accepted because  he had not much education.   So his thoughts about the priesthood were forgotten for a while.

At the age of 18, he and his  older brother Tom decided to go to USA to work,  and  he dreamed of making millions and being able to help his family.  Three of his sisters had already gone there and he hoped to stay with one of them while he was looking for work.    Before they set out for America  his father made them go on their  knees before a picture of the Sacred Heart  and promise  to be faithful to the Lord in America  because their first responsibility was the salvation of their souls.   And his mother told Patrick that with the aid of Our Lady he could do great things.

On 13 May 1927 the two  brothers set sail for USA.   Patrick soon discovered that making millions in America would not be easy.  He spent weeks searching for work.  Tom got a job in the mines but Patrick was not strong enough for that kind of work.  Eventually he got a job as caretaker of the Cathedral.

The silence and the opportunities for prayer in the Cathedral re-awakened in him the desire to be a priest.  His brother Tom also wanted to become a priest.  Monsignor  Kelly,  the administrator of the Cathedral,  sponsored their education at St. Thomas High School.   In 1929, Priests from the Holy Cross Congregation gave a retreat in their parish and the two of them were so impressed  by these priests that they went to Holy Cross Minor Seminary to complete their secondary education. Then in 1932, when Patrick was 23,  he applied to  for admission to the Holy Cross  Congregation.  Monsignor Kelly wrote the following recommendation for him:  "I envy the community or the bishop that finally gets him".   He and his brother entered the Holy Cross Novitiate and they  successfully completed the novitiate and  Philosophy  studies. They started  the study of theology, but in 1938 Patrick got the deadly disease of tuberculosis .   In 1939 he was very weak and the doctor offered him two options:  a risky surgery, with little hope of success,  or prayer.

Fr. Hagerty, a Holy Cross priest, encouraged  him to have faith, to use the faith which his mother handed on to him, and that he should pray especially  to Our Lady as she never fails anyone who prays to her with faith.    An aunt told him, "Your mother  prays that your sufferings would come upon her, so that you would get well".   His sister brought him novena prayers to Our Lady.  Patrick prayed the novena  and at the end of the novena he declared himself cured by Mary's intercession.  The doctors eventually confirmed this.  Patrick  now saw  Our Lady in a new light, how human, approachable  and  sensitive  she is to our needs.

He said: "When I needed her and her power and her friendship, she didn't forget that ever since I had been a little child and could open my  mouth, I had used that power to say the Rosary; so when I needed her friendship she was glad to give it to me".

So he was able to continue his studies and he and his brother Tom were ordained  priests on 15 June 1941.  He said, "That day I gave my heart and soul in love to Mary."   He was  so grateful to Mary for saving his life that he dedicated himself to spreading the practice of the family Rosary, which his family had been so faithful to, in Ireland.

His first appointment was to Albany in New York State.    There he started the Rosary crusade by getting some volunteers and by   writing to Bishops asking  their help  to organize a Rosary campaign.      He had promised Our Lady to get 10 million homes praying the family Rosary and  he realised that in order to reach millions he would need the help of the  mass media on a national level. The only mass  media  at that time was the radio.  He went to the Radio Headquarters in New Your and,  in spite of his shynesss, he was able to convince a non-Christian  woman that  his programme was just what America needed.   She agreed to give him time on the radio provided he could get some big Hollywood stars.

Next he phoned Bing Crosby, the famous Hollywood singer, who was a Catholic and he agreed to  take part  in the programme.    On May 13 1945  families heard a radio programme like no other,  featuring Archbishop Spellman of New York, President Harry Truman, Bing Crosby,  with the parents and sister of  the Sullivan family leading the  rosary. Five brothers of that family had lost their lives in the war.  Fr. Peyton finished the programme with an impassioned plea to families to pray the Rosary for peace.  The  programme had the biggest following of any radio programme in the States.

Later on Fr. Peyton decided to make Rosary films and he succeeded in getting a number of Hollywood stars to act in the films, among them were Bob Hope, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Regan (the future president of USA).    TV programmes were  to follow.   His motto, "The family that prays together, stays together"  became known to the world by his rallies, his radio and TV programmes and his films.  His Rosary rallies attracted hundreds of thousands of people in America and many countries  all over the world, and in Brazil and the  Philippines over a million people attended his rallies. When I was a young student  in 1954, (the Marian Year,)  I was privileged  to be present at  a rally in my home town in Ireland, which attracted a bigger crowd than the town ever  saw before or since.   He always preached with  great emotion but with great humility and simplicity.    Everywhere he impressed people, both young  and  old, rich and poor.   Even the film stars in Hollywood had great admiration for him.  By the time of his death he had produced over 600  television  and radio shows and fifteen films on the life of Christ and the mysteries of the Rosary. (These films, or extracts from them, can be seen on the internet:Fr. Peyton, Rosary Priest. Org.

In 1992, when he was 83 his health began to fail.  On the evening of June 2, 1992 he was unable to finish his Rosary, and was told by those at his bedside that they would finish the prayer for him. He died peacefully at 5:20 a.m. on June 3, 1992 his final words were:     Mary, my Queen, my Mother.

Upon notice of his death hundreds of condolences and statements of appreciation were received from people and groups around the world.   Father John Murphy  of the Holy Cross Congregation said,   "Father Pat was unique, he was charismatic, he was seemingly tireless, and in his lifetime, he did more to inspire devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary than anyone in history."  Many reports  came about healings and conversions as a result of  his  intercession. And he was declared Venerable by Pope Francis on 18th.December 2017.

We should be inspired by his humility and simplicity, his faith and his devotion to Our Lady, and especially we should strive to promote the Family Rosary which is needed now more than ever before because of all the problems facing the world, especially because of the attacks on marriage and the family and on life itself.   And people should be taught what a beautiful prayer the Rosary is. It is not just a repetition of Hail Marys.   It is a way of praying the Gospels.  If we say the Rosary every day, and briefly reflect on the Mysteries, in one week alone, we go right through the life of Christ from the time his birth was foretold at the Annunciation to the time he ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, and then we have the Assumption and Crowning of Our Lady which are the fruits of what Jesus has done for us.  So let us be "Apostles of the Rosary".


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