By Dave Jolivet, Anchor Editor
EASTON, Mass. — Fall River Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., will lead a special event sponsored by Holy Cross Family Ministries on June 6, in honor of Servant of God Father Peyton in recognition of the 23rd anniversary of his death, including Rosary prayer, a Eucharistic Procession, Mass, and reception.
The event will also be a celebration of sorts of the recent good news of the continuation of the sainthood cause of Father Peyton.
There are millions across the world who don’t need an official declaration of the sainthood of Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., belovedly known as the “Rosary Priest,” to believe he is already a holy man in the eyes of God.
But that hasn’t stopped scores of Father Peyton devotees from pursuing his sainthood cause. The latest step in that process, delivering to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, the positio, a 1,300-page position document; the synthesis of a 6,000-page report completed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which took over the cause in 2008, compiled from testimonies from more than 30 dioceses across the world.
Last month, Father Wilfred Raymond, C.S.C., president of Holy Cross Family Ministries, headquartered in Easton; Father David S. Marcham, vice postulator of the cause; Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, postulator; and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, made the journey to Rome to deliver the positio.
“We are very pleased to see progress in Father Peyton’s cause,” said Father Raymond. “Many people regularly tell me we need a ‘saint for families’ and that Father Peyton is the appropriate candidate.
“We honor Father Peyton’s memory by bringing families together to pray, especially the Rosary. We continue to fulfill his vision by sharing his strong belief with families around the world that ‘the family that prays together stays together.’”
“The positio contains the most compelling witness testimonies, documents, and analysis of his life and years of priesthood,” Father Marcham told The Anchor. “For example it contains people talking about his life in Ireland as a child, his healing from TB as a seminarian, and a sampling of all the people whose lives he enriched in his world-wide ministry. The positio contains documents from his baptismal certificate to his college transcript to letters from bishops and cardinals telling of the wonderful Spiritual benefits from his Rosary rallies in their dioceses.”
In 1997, through the postulator, the Congregation of Holy Cross asked then-Fall River Bishop Sean P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap., to open an investigation into Father Peyton’s life; the first step in the sainthood cause process.
In 2001 Rome granted a nahil obstat (nothing stands in the way), giving Father Peyton the title Servant of God.
Since Father Peyton, who died June 3, 1992, is buried in the Holy Cross Father and Brothers Cemetery on the Stonehill College campus in Easton in the Fall River Diocese, Bishop George W. Coleman opened the diocesan inquiry, which would establish commissions to review his heroic practice of virtue and reputation for holiness.
In November 2005 and 2010 two separate reported miracles attributed to Father Peyton’s intercession were reviewed and documented, with the results being sent to Rome.
If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints determines that Father Peyton led a life of holiness and heroic virtue, it will send the findings to Pope Francis who could declare Father Peyton, “venerable.”
“Before I came to the Diocese of Fall River, I knew about Father Peyton and his great work with the family and the Rosary,” Bishop da Cunha told The Anchor. “But I didn’t know, until I got here, about the Father Peyton Center and the fact that Father Peyton is buried in this diocese. This is a wonderful source of inspiration and getting Father Peyton’s message of family prayer across. This is a blessing to our diocese.
“The fact that the positio has been delivered is also a source of encouragement and inspiration. Maybe in the future a beatification will take place in this diocese. I’m looking forward to being a celebrant at the June 6 Mass.”
“There was a sense of excitement and joy in presenting the positio to Cardinal Amato, prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints,” said Father Marcham. “I felt privileged to represent the Congregation of Holy Cross along with Holy Cross Family Ministries President, Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C.
“There was excitement, joy, honor, amazement to be part of this historical moment in Father Peyton’s cause. The date it was presented was also the anniversary of Father Thomas Feeley, C.S.C. going home to God. Father Feeley was the first vice postulator for Father Peyton’s cause and it seemed fitting that this moment would be connected to him.
“After working with such wonderful people as Father George Lucas, C.S.C.; Father John Phalen, C.S.C.; Father Hugh Cleary, C.S.C.; and now Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C., on behalf of Father Peyton’s cause, I felt a sense of brotherhood in helping to make Father Peyton’s life and ministry known to the wider Church.
“My hopes are that Father Peyton’s positio may be discussed and questions posed and answered within this upcoming year. It seems providential that in this year of the Synod on the Family where family life is being discussed and prayed for with a special attention that Father Peyton’s, who gave his life to support the family in union with Jesus and Mary through the Rosary prayer, cause is moving forward. Additionally, the Holy Father has also highlighted the need for us to go to our Blessed Mother and to pray the Rosary as a means of entering more deeply into the life of Christ.”
Bishop da Cunha was invited by Father Raymond to take part in the celebration in honor of Father Peyton and the delivery of the positio.
“All of us at Holy Cross Family Ministries are looking forward to celebrating this year’s anniversary Mass commemorating Father Peyton’s death with our new bishop,” Father Hugh Cleary, C.S.C., national director of Holy Cross Family Ministries told The Anchor. “Father Willy and I have met Bishop da Cunha on a few occasions. His friendly demeanor and welcoming smile are very engaging. His presence will greatly enhance our celebration. Who knows maybe we will all be celebrating Father Peyton’s beatification right here in our diocese sooner than later.”
The event will begin with the praying of the Rosary at the Grotto on the Stonehill College campus at 4 p.m. A continuous shuttle service will transport faithful from the Father Peyton Center, 518 Washington Street, North Easton, beginning at 3 p.m.
A Eucharistic procession to Father Peyton’s grave will take place after the Rosary; followed by a procession (or shuttle) to St. Joseph’s Chapel at the Father Peyton Center.
A Mass will be celebrated at the chapel at approximately 5 p.m., within the context of the Corpus Christi vigil.
A 6 p.m. reception is scheduled beneath a tent at the center following the Mass.
HCFM invites youngsters who have recently received their First Communion to join the bishop, priests and faithful in the processions, declaring, “This is another opportunity to wear your Communion outfit!”
Parking will be available at the Father Peyton Center.
To RSVP for the reception, call 508-238-4095, extension 2041, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Families of recent First Communion children who wish to take part in the processions are asked to sign up by calling Rosemary Chaves at 508-238-4095. In the event of inclement weather all events will take place indoors.