Fr Patrick Peyton - Later Years, Attymass in Co. Mayo
Through the Rosary Crusades Fr. Peyton evangelised millions. He conducted them in over 40 countries on all six continents, drawing as many as 2 million people in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1964 and in the Philippines in 1985 and 500,000 in San Francisco in 1961. However during his lifetime Fr. Peyton always cherished his Irish roots and each year made an annual pilgrimage to Knock Shrine, 20 miles from his boyhood home. Here he would address thousands on the annual Family Day. In 1987 he was named the Mayo Person of the Year. On February 12th 1988 over a thousand people gathered in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin to see Fr. Peyton receive the award. He had returned from his travels abroad promoting the Family Rosary to be honoured as he put it so well himself "by his own people."
In 1991 he celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a priest and came back to his native parish of Attymass to celebrate it. A tree was planted beside the church to honour the occasion. It serves as a durable reminder to the service and dedication of a wonderful priest for fifty golden years of his priesthood. The newly formed Bonniconlon Marching Band played for Fr Patrick at the occasion. Two of his relatives, his grandniece Maria and grandnephew Adrian were in the band. The band assembled at Killeen graveyard, outside Attymass village where Fr. Peyton's parents' are buried and then lead him into Attymass in a wonderful procession, which was covered by the RTÉ team and appeared on the evening news. At the ceremony a small boy was heard to say, "Is that Our Lady's band with the blue uniforms?"
Death of Fr. Peyton
Fr. Peyton's final visit to his native Attymass was in December 1991. Afterwards he returned to the Jeanne Jugan Residence in San Pedro, California. He died a year later on the 3rd June at the age of 83. In his final moments his words were "Mary, my Queen, my Mother." The following day his remains were brought to the Jeanne Jugan Residence. The Rosary was recited in many languages continually until the funeral mass began. The main celebrant was Fr. Tom Tobin, a Holy Cross priest who few out from the east coast to be present. The local parish priest Monsignor Gallagher also concelebrated mass. His mother had come over from Ireland on the boat with Fr. Peyton when he emigrated in the 1920's.
The next morning Fr. Loftus, a long time friend assigned to the Los Angeles archdiocese celebrated another funeral mass. Fr. Loftus' grandmother had taught Fr. Peyton in first, second and third grades in Bofield National School. Fr. Peyton's remains were then flown out to Boston for another funeral mass on Monday before being buried in Stonehill. The last prayer recited by Fr. Loftus was the Memorare, a prayer so dear to Fr. Peyton.