The man who would become the Rosary Priest was born Jan. 9, 1909, in County Mayo, Ireland. Patrick Peyton was the sixth child in a family of four boys and five girls raised by his parents, John and Mary. Though poor, the Peytons were rich in faith and prayed the Rosary together as a family each day.
In 1927, Patrick and his older brother Thomas moved to Scranton, Pa., to live with two sisters already residing in the United States. He worked as sexton of St. Stanislaus Cathedral before hearing the call to become a priest in 1932, when he and Thomas entered the main seminary for the Congregation of Holy Cross in Notre Dame, Ind.
While still a seminarian and studying at the University of Notre Dame, Patrick contracted tuberculosis. His doctors did not believe he would survive and told him to pray. So Patrick prayed the Rosary as he was taught by his father and experienced a miraculous healing. He then devoted his life to Mary and her prayer as a source of comfort and guidance for families in an increasingly challenging world.
Following his ordination as a priest in 1941, Father Peyton became chaplain of the Holy Cross Brothers of the Vincentian Institute in Albany, N.Y. It was during this time that Father Peyton founded Family Rosary in 1942 and started a letter-writing campaign to the faithful while urging other priests to get their parishioners praying the Rosary daily. Father Peyton then had the vision of using mass media to reach all the families he wanted to bring to prayer.
In 1943, Father Peyton led a Rosary prayer on a local radio station in Albany. Then, on Mother’s Day, 1945, he prayed nationally with Bing Crosby on the Mutual Broadcasting System, the largest radio network at the time. The move into media brought Father Peyton to Hollywood where in 1947 he founded Family Theater Productions, now celebrating its 65th Anniversary.
Through Family Theater Productions, Father Peyton utilized radio, films, outdoor advertising and later television, to reach people around the world with his message of peace and unity.
Father Peyton would go on to produce and broadcast numerous programs of faith featuring some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, including Bob Hope, Maureen O’Hara, Irene Dunn, Ronald Reagan, Loretta Young and many others. His efforts through radio, television and film – as well as a billboard campaign that stretched across America – reached countless people with many inspirational messages, including “The family that prays together stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”
At the same time, Father Peyton started the Family Rosary Crusade. Millions of people would attend these Rosary rallies, where Father Peyton would lead them in prayer. These massive events were held in Manila, Bogota, Bombay, Johannesburg, Madrid, New York, San Francisco, Nairobi and other cities.
In addition to Hollywood stars, Father Peyton would meet all kinds of famous people and world leaders over the course of his ministry – from presidents and kings to evangelists and pontiffs , including Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. He died June 3, 1992, and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Easton, Mass., near the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, where his mission continues today.
For more information about Holy Cross Family Ministries or any of its ministries, call 800-299-7729 or visit www.FamilyRosary.org.
For more information on our anniversaries, our ministry and our founder: read more about Father Peyton and read more about out ministry