POPE FRANCIS advanced the sainthood cause of Father Patrick Peyton when he declared him Venerable in 2017. Father Peyton  started the Family Rosary while he was in Albany with the help of volunteers from The College of St. Rose. (Photos provided by the Irish
American Heritage Museum)
POPE FRANCIS advanced the sainthood cause of Father Patrick Peyton when he declared him Venerable in 2017. Father Peyton started the Family Rosary while he was in Albany with the help of volunteers from The College of St. Rose. (Photos provided by the Irish American Heritage Museum)
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The “Rosary Priest” is coming back to Albany.

The life and work of Father Patrick Peyton will be on full display starting June 9 until July 5 at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany.  The exhibit, which is on loan from the Father Peyton Centre in Attymass, Ireland, tells the story of Father Peyton and his international mission, beginning with his work in Albany.

“We are very excited to be able to promote an immigrant; to promote a man who has had a lasting impact at home in Ireland and in Albany … and who had a very positive impact around the world,” said Elizabeth Stack, executive director of the museum.

In addition to the exhibit, on June 12 (Personal Stories), 19 (Father Peyton and Mary the Mother of Jesus) and 27 (Sainthood) all at 7 p.m., the museum will host presentations by friends, colleagues, theologians and scholars, who will discuss Father Peyton’s life and work in Albany and abroad. 

Father Peyton was a pioneer in the use of radio and television, using big Hollywood stars of the time to produce programs that promoted family prayer. His ministry produced over 600 radio and television programs and 10,000 broadcasts. He also coined two phrases that became well-known among Catholics and the wider community: “The family that prays together, stays together;” and, “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”

“That was his sophistication, that he wanted to use the most modern communication in the world (to reach people),” said Father Kenneth Doyle, whose association goes back years with Father Peyton. 

It was an amazing life for Father Peyton, who along his brother, Tom, came to the United States in 1928 from Ireland, with hopes of finding his fortune and becoming a millionaire.  But the lure of the priesthood was too strong, and he and his brother joined the seminary and were ordained in the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1941, Father Peyton’s first assignment was as chaplain in Albany to a group of Holy Cross Brothers, who taught at the Vincentian Institute.

In Albany, he began his project to promote praying the Rosary and family life.  “In the 1940s, with assistance from some students and alums at St. Rose, they started the Family Rosary,” said Father Doyle, whose mother, Sallie, was part of the group of volunteers.

His affinity for the Rosary started in Ireland — his family prayed the Rosary nightly — and continued when he contracted an advanced form of tuberculosis that nearly took his life in 1939. Father Peyton credited the power of prayer to Mary for his miraculous recovery.  Father Peyton then went to Hollywood to expand his ministry and branched out into television and the movies, including “The Life of Christ” series.

Father Peyton also famously hosted Rosary Rallies, which began in 1948 in Ontario and took him all across the world and were attended by millions. For example, 1.5 million attended a rally in Rio de Janeiro and 2 million in the Philippines.

Father Peyton died in 1992 and on Dec. 18, 2017, Pope Francis issued a decree recognizing Father Peyton as Venerable, which is the second step to Sainthood. Two miracles would have to be directly attributed to Father Peyton for him to then become a saint.

In 2011, there was an investigation into a possible miracle attributed to Father Peyton’s intercession: the healing of a man being treated at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. “He was a regular guy but holy,” Father Doyle said. “The fact that he was declared Venerable that means that his heroic virtue and sanctity of life are recognized by the Church and people can pray for his intercession.”