Area clergy, faithful thrilled with news of ‘Rosary Priest’ being recognized as Venerable

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

EASTON, Mass. — Although signs were pointing toward a favorable result, the December 18 announcement that Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree regarding Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton recognizing his heroic virtues, thus declaring him as Venerable, was received with overwhelming joy and excitement by Holy Cross Father Willy Raymond, president of Holy Cross Family Ministries and Father David S. Marcham, vice postulator of the cause.

“We knew the vote was going before the cardinals and it looked good, but when it became official on December 18, it was such a joy and momentous step in Father Peyton’s sainthood cause,” Father Raymond told The Anchor. “On a Spiritual level, it’s something that many people have been praying for for 25 years. Some here at Holy Cross Family Ministries have been here for 17 or so years and prayed the Rosary every day for this, and the prayers were answered.

“On a practical level, all the hard work of all those involved in the process of Father Peyton’s sainthood cause has been rewarded thus far. This will help our ministry with the publicity that this will bring.”

“My initial reaction after learning that Father Peyton would become Venerable was one of joy; the type of joy that makes you want to share the good news and all that it means with your family, friends, parishioners — the world,” Father Marcham, who is also director of the Father Peyton Guild, told The Anchor.

Susan Wallace, director of Marketing at Holy Cross Family Ministries, an employee there since 2000, and who has assisted Father Raymond told The Anchor, “When it became definite, I welled up with tears, with such joy. Years ago I never knew if I would be around to see something like this happen for Father Peyton. I became more emotional than I thought I would.”

Father Peyton introduced the faithful to two well-known messages: “The family that prays together stays together,” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”

“Having come up with those iconic sayings so long ago, some people don’t realize that it was Father Peyton who first said them,” said Father Raymond. “Some folks attribute them to Archbishop Fulton Sheen or even St. Mother Teresa. But it was Father Peyton.”

Father Peyton, also well known as the “Rosary Priest,” was introduced to the prayer as a young lad growing up with his mother, father and siblings in Carracastle, County Mayo, Ireland.

The Peyton Family, though eking out a meager living on the farm, prayed the Rosary every evening. That faith sustained Patrick, especially through the time that, as a seminarian in the United States, he was stricken with tuberculosis. A priest advisor at the University of Notre Dame where Patrick was studying urged the young man to trust in the power of the Blessed Mother’s intercession. He did and astonished his doctors with a complete recovery.

At that moment Patrick Peyton felt the calling to spread devotion to Mary so all could learn of and utilize her great intercessory powers with her Son, Jesus.

Over the next half century Father Patrick Peyton introduced millions to the power of the Rosary all across the globe.

It was his zeal and passion for Our Lord and His Blessed Mother that drove him to share it with all he met.

Father Peyton died in 1992 at the age of 83 in San Pedro, Calif. His final words were, “Mary, my queen, my mother.”

Through the Rosary Priest’s tireless efforts, Holy Cross Family Ministries became and still is a vital presence in the salvific mission of bringing souls to Christ. In 1941 Father Peyton founded Family Rosary and Family Theater Productions in 1943. Under the umbrella of Holy Cross Family Ministries, these entities, along with Father Peyton Family Institutes in Peru and India, form an army whose weapon of choice is the Rosary, and the desire to strengthen families across the world.

Venerable Father Peyton once said, “The Rosary reaches the coal miner, the taxi driver, the housewife, all the lonely people in their sorrows and fears. It gives them something for their intelligence and their senses. It embodies the Good News that Jesus loves you because you are His brother or sister.”

The Anchor spoke with Dorothy Halloran via a telephone interview from her home in Albany, N.Y., the first headquarters for Father Peyton’s Family Rosary ministry. She was delighted with the news of his becoming Venerable.

“I was so pleased with the news,” she said. “He was a man so involved with the ministries of family Rosary and family prayer that his head was in the clouds sometimes.”

Halloran began working at Family Rosary in Albany while still attending high school. She began working there full time when she graduated in 1948. “It was hard work,” she continued. “Father Peyton was not an easy man to work for, but you always wanted to be there and do what he asked.”

Halloran attended some of the worldwide Rosary Rallies with Father Peyton. “That’s when the work was really tough, but it was rewarding,” she said. “He said the same thing, but it was how he said it that was so touching to me.”

Halloran worked with Father Peyton until 1960 when she was married.

She returned when her children had grown in 1982. “You know,” she told The Anchor, “when I went back and I began taking dictation or he wrote something, I started to keep every slip of paper. I didn’t think of sainthood, but I had a feeling I should keep them. Those papers turned out to be very important later on in the sainthood cause.”

Halloran remained with Family Rosary until it moved to Easton in 2000.

Father Peyton’s becoming Venerable is the second stage in what is a four-stage process to sainthood.

The first step occurred in July 1997 when the Congregation of Holy Cross, through a postulator, asked then-Fall River Bishop Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., to open an investigation of Father Peyton’s actions and writings. This took place in the Fall River Diocese because it is where Father Peyton is buried at the Holy Cross Congregation’s cemetery on the grounds of Stonehill College in Easton.

In June 2001, the Vatican granted a “nihil obstat,” (nothing stands in the way) which gave Father Peyton the title “Servant of God.”

In October of 2003, then-Fall River Bishop George W. Coleman presided over the opening of the Diocesan Inquiry, during which diocesan tribunal members would review the heroic practice of virtue and reputation for holiness and hear witnesses testimonies on his heroic Christian virtues and holiness of life.

Father Peyton’s cause was transferred in November 2008 to the Archdiocese of Baltimore because of the significant scope of the study.

In 2010 the Baltimore Tribunal sent 6,000 pages of documentation (the “Acts,” a six-year study of Father Peyton), to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, postulator of the Cause, prepared a summary of the “Acts” in December 2014. This document, a Positio (Position Document), ended up being 1,300 pages.

The following April, Dr. Ambrosi, Fathers Raymond and Marcham, and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines, delivered the Positio to the Vatican to Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for further review.

In June 2017, at the annual Anniversary Mass at the Father Peyton Center in Easton, Fall River Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., announced that the Theological Congress for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted in favor of Father Peyton’s cause moving forward: “By their vote they recognized what so many people around the world have come to know through personal encounter, study and prayer: that Father Peyton lived a life of heroic virtue and holiness,” the bishop said. “We are pleased to receive this notice as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Father Peyton’s death (June 3, 1992) and the 75th anniversary of the founding of Family Rosary (1942). Please continue to keep Father Peyton’s Cause in your prayers. Let us pray for a ‘Saint for Families.’”

On Dec. 18, 2017, Pope Francis decreed that Father Peyton could now be called Venerable.

“This is so joyful,” said Father Raymond. “Many causes for sainthood are opened, but not many reach the stage of becoming Venerable.”

Father Raymond said he was a bit surprised that the cause has moved as quickly as it has thus far.

“My hope is that this can now move quickly to the next step,” he added. “The next step, studying a possible miracle through Venerable Father Peyton’s intercession, should not be as labor-intensive.” Father Raymond also told The Anchor that Pope Francis seems eager to move along the process of sainthood candidates who are from outside Europe.

That and the fact that Father Peyton lived a very high-profile holy life may help move along the cause.

The next step in the process is to find a candidate Blessed, which entails confirming a miracle attributed to the intercession of the candidate.

According to the Holy Cross Family Ministries website (, “Presently, hundreds of testimonies to Father Peyton’s holiness of life have been recorded. Tens of thousands of prayer cards containing a prayer for a favor through Father Peyton’s intercession are in circulation. Hundreds of favors have been reported. Some of these favors are remarkable healings for which there is no medical explanation.”

Should the sainthood congregation find that a miracle had indeed taken place, Father Peyton could move on to become Blessed, and if another miracle is verified, he could become a saint.

“The reactions to Father Peyton becoming Venerable have been so joyful and encouraging,” said Father Raymond. “The folks here at the Family Ministries, Family Rosary and Family Theater are elated. And the Father Peyton Family Institutes in Peru and India are particularly joyous.

“We have members of the Holy Cross Congregation around the world and this is a very good boost for them and the works they do carrying out their mission.

“Our hope is to reintroduce the Rosary to a new generation. In some ways, the tradition has been lost by young adults who are lukewarm or don’t have the faith at all. We work hard to bring them back to the Church and with them their children, and the Rosary is such a powerful tool to achieve that.”

Father Marcham added, “I have been so happy to hear and read the overwhelmingly positive and affirming messages in reaction to Father Peyton becoming Venerable. People from Easton, Taunton, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Diocese of Albany, and Fall River, Rome, and India and from places in between have been energized by this great news.” 

This is an especially powerful time for Father Raymond, having interacted with Father Peyton several times in his lifetime.

“When I entered the congregation in 1964, Father Peyton and I were in the same Eastern Province and we would attend the same meetings or retreats at times. I could tell there was something uniquely remarkable about him right from the start.

“I recall a time when he came to the seminary at Stonehill College in North Easton, and one of the seminarians gave Father Peyton a haircut. The seminarian later told me that he was going to collect the hair that was cut and save them for relics some day.”

Father Raymond recalled a retreat he attended in 1971 when Father Peyton put his hand on Father Raymond’s and said he had a feeling that “Mary was calling you to work at Family Rosary,”

“I was so honored, but to be truthful, he also said that to a number of others on the retreat as well,” said Father Raymond. “But that was the way he was, always trying to recruit people to work for Jesus through His Blessed Mother.”

Father Raymond also told The Anchor about a time when Father Peyton spoke at a Mass at Stonehill, celebrating his and another priest’s 50th anniversary of ordination.

“He didn’t preach the homily, he really wasn’t a great preacher, but he did ask to speak at the end of the Mass,” said Father Raymond. “He went on to tell the story of his life. That was such a privilege to be there and hear it from his own lips. He always referred to himself as ‘Our Lady’s Donkey,’ and he mentioned that that day.”

Being vice postulator of Venerable Father Peyton’s sainthood cause is an awesome experience for Father Marcham. “I feel blessed and also a sense of responsibility to share in the study and sharing of the sainthood cause for this beloved Rosary Priest,” he told The Anchor. “It’s a blessing because I have the opportunity to delve into the life and ministry of a fellow priest and in the process to encounter people whose lives were richly transformed by Father Peyton’s message and ministry and to be personally inspired. 

“I feel a responsibility to the Church to properly study and represent Father Peyton’s life and ministry in a way that is true to his incredible life of virtue and holiness.”

HCFM continues the work of Venerable Father Patrick Peyton as a family of Catholic ministries that inspires, promotes and fosters the prayer life and Spiritual well-being of families throughout the world. “We help families pray!”  its website proclaims.

It continues the mindset  of Father Patrick Peyton who believed one of God’s greatest blessings is the family and he believed the best way to support the family is through prayer — particularly daily Rosary prayer. He knew that the family is the foundation of society and when the family maintains a deep and healthy mutual love, this in turn strengthens the family of the Church and the entire family of humanity. 

The website says, “Father Peyton’s messages, ‘The family that prays together stays together,’ and ‘A world at prayer is a world at peace,’ continue to be the focus of all the efforts of his continuing ministry. Families are served today through Family Rosary, Family Theater Productions, the Father Peyton Family Institutes and the newly-instituted Catholic Mom where 110 young Catholic mothers and fathers contribute features extolling the attributes of the Catholic faith. 

Each ministry’s unique charism provides impactful resources that strengthen families.”

HCFM also hosts the Father Peyton Guild established to: pray for Father Peyton’s canonization; pray for the continuation of the family of ministries he founded; and pray for your family and families around the world.

In addition, 1.4 million people have downloaded the Rosary app and 1.25 million follow the ministries at its Facebook page,

“This recent announcement made me reflect upon the people who have helped me in my work in this cause for sainthood: beginning with my parents and the Holy Cross priests and Brothers and my colleagues at Holy Cross Family Ministries and then the other faith-filled people that I’ve encountered in the Fall River and Albany dioceses and in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and as far away as Rome and the Philippines,” said Father Marcham. “This good news is their good news as they have been an important part of Father Peyton’s cause through their prayers and efforts each in their own wonderful way. In a way, it reflects the Mystical Body of Christ and the fruits are seeing the goodness and holiness that flow from following the will of God that leads to giving glory to God.”

For more information on Father Peyton, the sainthood cause, and/or any of the members of the Holy Cross Family Ministries clan visit Or visit the Father Peyton Center at 518 Washington Street, North Easton, Mass. 02356, 508-238-4095.


© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts