Fr Patrick Peyton - Early Priesthood, Attymass in Co. Mayo


Patrick had lost a years study because of his illness and this meant he was a year behind his brother Thomas. He emigrated from Ireland with Thomas, studied with him and in his heart wanted to be ordained with him. In May 1941, a month before Tom's ordination, a cablegram arrived from Rome, which read: "Special dispensations are granted for the immediate ordination to the priesthood of seminarian Patrick Peyton." On 15 June 1941 the two Peytons were ordained priests in the Church of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame. It had been a long journey from Carracastle to that day in Notre Dame and as Fr. Peyton tells us in his autobiography "All for Her."

"At Notre Dame that day I gave my heart and soul in love to Mary. I promised her all the merit of my priesthood until death. The merit and the glory of every action I would ever perform would be hers and hers alone."

Early Work

After his ordination Patrick was appointed as Chaplin to the Holy Cross Brothers at the Vincentian Institute, Albany, New York, after spending an extra year of study to make up for time lost due to illness. It was decided not to send him on the missions because of his recent illness. He decided with the full approval of his superiors to promote the Family Rosary, and started to give triduums all over the United States. The crusade was supported by bishops and Catholic organisations throughout the country. He shared his message with every church, school and religious institution in the United States.

So great was the response and enthusiasm for the appeal that the effects were soon felt on other continents. Recognising the need for the message to be heard by all Fr. Peyton turned to the power of the mass media. He started a radio programme in Albany to say the rosary over the air, which was most successful. His first nationwide Family Rosary programme was on Mothers' Day May 13th in 1945 and it proved to be very worthwhile. The programme received great reviews from the newspaper critics. Fr. Peyton was jubilant as he had succeeded in mounting the first radio programme based on the Family Rosary with outstanding success. He knew that the momentum must be kept up and next stop would be Hollywood.

Family Theatre of the Air

In Hollywood Peyton approached the stars and put forward his ideas to them. Much to his dismay most of them were unenthusiastic. However his second visit there in 1946 proved somewhat more successful and a year later he launched the Family Theatre. On February 13th 1947 millions of Americans heard the first Family Theatre on the air production. Through the Family Theatre he engaged listeners by offering stories that taught moral values. The programme continued on and the Family Theatre and Fr. Peyton gained national and international recognition as the leading producers of religious programmes on radio. A special Christmas radio show 'The Joyful Hour' was broadcast live later that year and it involved a star-studded cast. The programme was repeated annually and several times revised. In 1948 Fr. Peyton received a home for the Family Theatre on 7021 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. The house became its administration centre.

The radio shows continued for twelve years. Everyone featured famed actors and actresses. Family Theatre led the field in the production of religious drama for radio and it became the leader in television. Fr. Peyton was also the 'Hollywood Chaplain' and made many pioneering religious films as well as television programmes with the Hollywood stars. Stars such as Bing Crosby, Gregory Peck and Grace Kelly got involved in the making of these films. Television productions were costly so he had to resort to rich and wealthy friends to finance their productions. In 1957 Fr. Peyton completed the production of 15 films that depicted the mysteries of the Rosary. They are still airing today all over the world.

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