Father Patrick Peyton founder of the Family Rosary Crusade talks about a lifelong devotion to the Rosary.
A member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (Congregatio a Sancta Cruce or CSC) order, Fr Peyton recalls his earliest memories of his home place Attymass in County Mayo. His parents and eight siblings prayed the Rosary together every night in their cottage. An event which he admits as a small child he did not enjoy.
It was only when Patrick Peyton went to work picking potatoes for a farmer in a nearby village that he realised not everyone had the same faith and prayer life as his family. He resolved to talk to the farmer about it, and it took a full week to summon up the courage to do so.
That was the first family Rosary plea that I made.
From an early age, Fr Peyton wanted to become a priest, but his attempts to enter the seminary in Ireland were rejected, and he gave up on the idea.
Emigrating to the United States in 1927 with his brother Tom, he lived with one of his sisters in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a coal mining city. The plan was to make money working in the mines or as a truck driver, but as it was the beginning of the Great Depression, jobs were scarce.
Aware of this, and also mindful that once he had longed to be a priest, his sister Nellie arranged a job interview with Monsignor Paul Kelly who was parish priest of St Stanislaus Cathedral in Scranton. Patrick Peyton refused to go.
Eventually with no other employment in Scranton he agreed to take the job of sexton in the cathedral.
It was while he was at work cleaning the in the church that thoughts of entering the priesthood, which he had done his best to banish from his mind, came back to him.
Alone in that big house of God, the little red light at the end of the aisle told me everything.
At Monsignor Kelly’s suggestion Patrick Peyton enrolled in high school to improve his education, and his brother Tom took over his job as sexton. Within a month Tom also announced that he wanted to be a priest.
Both brothers entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross seminary at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Patrick Peyton studied theology at the Catholic University in Washington DC, and was ordained in 1941.
He credits his parents as the ones who gave him his grounding in the faith,
They gave me the real lessons, the real values, by their example, not by their talking to me.
This episode of 'Donncha’s Travelling Roadshow’ was broadcast on 12 April 1980. The interviewer is Donncha Ó Dúlaing.