By Dave Jolivet, Anchor Editor
NORTH EASTON, Mass. — Shortly after the “Rosary Priest” Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton’s sainthood cause was opened on June 1, 2001 in the Fall River Diocese, the Father Peyton Guild was born, with chapters springing up across the globe. The purpose of the guild was to have faithful routinely pray for the cause, and learn more about and continue the mission of Servant of God Father Peyton; that being to have families pray together and come to know Jesus Christ better through the intercession of His Blessed Mother via the Rosary.
Several guild chapters were established in other countries before the U.S. gained its very first in 2003.
“In 1997, there was a group of us who made a pilgrimage retreat, and when we returned, we felt called to create a ‘Rosary Group,’ that met each week to pray the Rosary for various intentions,” Ann Melanson, a Mission Assistant at Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton, told The Anchor. “We met on the Stonehill College campus until 2000 when then-HCFM president Father John Phalen invited us to use the Father Peyton Center for our meetings.
“In 2003 Father Peyton thought it made sense for our group to become the very first Father Peyton Guild chapter in the United States. He invited us to do so, and we graciously accepted.”
Father David Marcham, vice postulator for Servant of God Father Peyton’s sainthood cause oversees the chapters across the world. There are certain criteria that must be made by each chapter, and one of those is that they meet three times a year.
“Our chapter, which is named the Connie Harvey Chapter of the Father Peyton Guild, tries to meet on or near important dates in Father Peyton’s life,” said Melanson. “We try to meet on or around January 9, his birthday; June 3 his date of death; and September 15, the feast day of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.”
Melanson told The Anchor that a chapter meeting usually consists of praying a set of Mysteries of the Rosary, a speaker, fellowship, and refreshments. Currently there are 25 or so members of the Harvey Chapter.
“We pray for the cause, we pray for the mission of Father Peyton to continue to spread, we pray for those in the military, for the unborn, for the respect for life from conception until natural death, and for personal intentions. We usually have a book of intentions for members to add to and pray for. And we always pray Father Peyton’s two prayers; for his beatification, and praying for a request or favor through his intercession.”
The Easton chapter met on June 6, and invited Father Phalen as its guest speaker. Father Phalen, who had been HCFM president for 18 years was just completing that assignment before beginning his new assignment as director of novices to the Holy Cross order in the Chosita Diocese near Lima, Peru. That assignment begins in November.
“We wanted to thank Father Phalen for all his good works at Holy Cross Family Ministries and across the world,” added Melanson. “And we wanted to present him with a gift. We gave him a gift of 12 Masses to be said for the success of his new assignment, one a month for the next year. There isn’t a better gift than to have a Mass celebrated for someone.
“The Masses will be celebrated by Holy Cross Father Steve Gibson in Ireland, director of the Father Peyton Centre in Attymass, Ballina, County Mayo in that country.”
Also attending the chapter meeting was Father Marcham, who gave an update on the sainthood cause (The Anchor will feature a story on the status of Servant of God Father Peyton’s cause in an edition in the near future).
“I am impressed when reading testimonials or when I have conversations with people who know Father Peyton and the things said in the ’40s right through to his death,” Father Marcham told The Anchor. “I thanked Father John for the same consistency following Christ all his life, with fidelity to Christ and the Blessed Mother.”
Robin Cabral, the new director of Development at HCFM was also a guest speaker at the June meeting. She spoke of the importance of Father Peyton’s ministry and the need for faithful volunteers to give of their time, talents and treasures to spread the word of Father Peyton, bringing Christ to the family.
Since the Connie Harvey Chapter began in 2003 several more Father Peyton Guild chapters have blossomed in California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. Another Massachusetts chapter has also started in Shrewsbury.
Melanson said that the Rosary group, begun in 1997, is still going strong. “We used to meet weekly, but now we meet monthly because of everyone’s busy schedules,” she said. “We meet on the first Sunday of the month to keep the First Friday and First Saturday themes going. At the monthly meetings, we pray all 20 Mysteries of the Rosary.”
For more information about the Father Peyton Guild or Servant of God Father Peyton, visit hcfm.org.
Father Marcham invites those who would like to start a guild chapter or join an existing one to contact him by email firstname.lastname@example.org; via mail at 518 Washington Street, North Easton, Mass., 02356; or by telephone at 508-238-4095.
To join the local Connie Harvey Chapter of the Father Peyton Guild, contact Melanson at 508-631-0533 or email email@example.com.