By Dave Jolivet
EASTON, Mass. — He was a man destined for greatness — but not in the way the secular world thinks of greatness. Patrick Peyton was born to a poor family in County Mayo, Ireland on Jan. 9, 1909.
The greatness for which he was destined was not for his glory and fame, but to spread the Word of God and to bring prayer and peace to families and the world through the Blessed Mother’s powerful Rosary.
The poor young lad from County Mayo desired to become a priest, but was discouraged by a couple of rejections from seminaries. He then decided to emigrate to the United States to pursue a dream of “becoming a millionaire.”
Acquiring the permission from his devout Catholic father John Peyton to come to American was not for easy for Patrick. His father made him and his traveling companion, his own brother Tom, adhere to a promise: “Go down on your knees and make me a promise here before the picture of the Sacred Heart,” said his father. “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.”
Following unsuccessful attempts at employment in his new land, Patrick landed a job as a sexton in a cathedral in Scranton, Penn. It was there, “with the silence, peace, and joy of talking to Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother, Patrick experiences a sense of being at home and a place of happiness. Patrick’s dream of becoming a missionary priest is awakened in a new land.”
Patrick Peyton did indeed become a priest and went on to found Holy Cross Family Ministries, befriend Hollywood stars who would help him spread God’s Word, and would hold Rosary Rallies around the world before millions of people whose lives were changed by the Rosary Priest.
Many people across the Diocese of Fall River, where Father Peyton is buried, are well-aware the cause for his sainthood was opened by then-Fall River Bishop Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., on June 1, 2001.
Because this is such an important occasion, not only for the diocese, but for Catholics across the world, Holy Cross Family Ministries, headquartered in Easton has developed an enhanced and comprehensive website devoted to the Rosary Priest who is well-known for his inspirational adages: “The family that prays together stays together,” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”
A original Father Peyton website at www.fatherpeyton.org was developed in 2010, but it was decided the site should be enhanced and updated to keep countless faithful aware of the sainthood cause progress, and to have access to a comprehensive chronicle of the beloved priest’s life — from his simple childhood to the present.
“Father Peyton lived a life of holiness that is inspirational to all of us,” said Holy Cross Father Willy Raymond, president of HCFM. “We hope families are inspired by his example and see that even from the most humble beginnings, any of us can accomplish great things for God’s glory.
“The updated site is a testament to his faithfulness in serving Mary while demonstrating many of his important contributions in film, radio, television, and outdoor media.”
Father David S. Marcham, vice postulator for Father Peyton’s sainthood cause told The Anchor, “The original website was the idea of former HCFM president Holy Cross Father John Phalen and myself to share Father Peyton’s inspirational life story with those who use the Internet.”
Together with Father Phalen and an assembled team they designed the site and provided the content.
Father Marcham said the reason the decision was made to update the site was because of a significant increase in the use of mobile devices — smart phones and tablets. “We wanted to have a website that would work for the way that people are now more commonly accessing the web.”
The site, maintained and updated by Father Marcham, Julie Cygawnowski, a website team comprised of members of HCFM in Easton and Family Rosary (a branch of HCFM) in Hollywood, and a website development company. “The ideas come from the team members who are from a wide range of experience and demographics,” Father Marcham told The Anchor.
The sophisticated website is filled with remarkable and inspirational photographs of Father Peyton in all stages of his life.
The site is laid out chronologically:
Chapter one: The Early Years — Life in Ireland.
Chapter two: Coming to America — Immigrant to priest.
Chapter three: Hollywood & Media — Father Peyton reaches to the stars.
Chapter four: Rosary Rallies — The humble apostle of the Rosary.
Chapter five: His Final Days — A holy and faith-filled life.
Chapter six: Cause for Sainthood — Inspiration for families worldwide.
Chapter seven: Continue His Mission — Supporting the well-being of the family.
Each chapter is a fact-filled source of information about the Rosary Priest’s life, including a plethora of memorable photographs with family; brother priests; Hollywood notables such as Jack Benny, Lucille Ball and Loretta Young; and some of the millions of faithful Catholics he touched on his 83-year journey on this earth.
Also included are facts about the sainthood cause process.
Currently Father Peyton is a Servant of God, meaning he was deemed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican as having had heroic virtues and lived a life of holiness.
According to the website, “Servant of God Patrick Peyton’s Cause reached a new milestone in April of 2015 with the completion and presentation of the Positio — a 1,300-page report that studied his life and ministry for heroic virtue and sanctity of life (holiness).
“The Positio is the synthesis of the Diocesan Inquiry (6,000-page report that included interviews with people from Father Peyton’s life: childhood to death, study of his academic life, ministry, writings, and homilies, etc.) which was conducted in 35 dioceses around the world and completed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2010.”
If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints finds that Father Peyton led a life of heroic virtue and sanctity of life, it can recommend to the Holy Father that Father Peyton should be declared “Venerable.”
There have been two purported medical miracles attributed to Father Peyton’s intercession. Should he be declared Venerable, the Congregation can then select one of the events for investigation.
The revised website also includes prayers for Father Peyton’s sainthood; prayer requests; and stories of prayers answered through the Rosary Priest’s intercession.
Also included is information about joining or starting a Father Peyton Guild, a worldwide group of people who meet throughout the year to pray the Rosary together, learn about Servant of God Patrick Peyton, his ongoing mission, and his Cause for Beatification.
There is currently an active guild in the Diocese of Fall River in Taunton: Ann Marie Melanson,193 Tremont Street, Unit 148, Taunton, Mass. 02780, 508-631-0533, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am excited about the mobile capacity with high quality multimedia that engages the visitors to the website,” Father Marcham told The Anchor. “My hope is that visitors to the Father Peyton website will find hope for themselves and their families through seeing how God works through our families and Rosary prayer.
“I would ask people to share this website with their families, friends, parish priests, deacons, and religious educators. We would also like to receive feedback regarding the website experience and ideas that they may have.
“Also, we are ‘screening’ the website in the rotunda at The Father Peyton Center at Holy Cross Family Ministries, 518 Washington Street, North Easton, through February 7. Anyone can stop by, surf through the site and complete a survey to provide input to our future updates. Everyone completing the survey will receive a small gift and a coupon for products in our bookstore.
“We used new technologies to enhance the site experience for visitors. Different types of media — photos, video and audio — were included to tell his story. I hope visitors find it to be inspiring and visually interesting. We think Father Peyton would be pleased with the new site because of the way he embraced new media to reach families with his message of praying the Rosary together.
“In the spirit of its founder, Servant of God Patrick Peyton, Holy Cross Family Ministries promotes and supports the Spiritual well-being of the family. Through prayer programs and media, they reach out to families to fulfill the founder’s vision that ‘The family that prays together stays together.’”
For more information, visit www.hcfm.org or call 800-299-7729.