Fr Patrick Peyton - Family Rosary Crusade
Family Rosary Crusade
Fr. Peyton had reached vast audiences through Family Theatre and now he wanted to start a Rosary Crusade. The first Diocesan Rosary Crusade was inaugurated in the diocese from February to May 1948. In addition to the Diocesan Crusades, which consisted of house to house visitations and triduums, anew idea suggested itself, namely large rallies - open air. These rallies became a feature of the Rosary Crusade from now on. Rosary pledge cards were printed and distributed to each family in the diocese. At these rallies Fr. Peyton's message was always the same - a heartfelt appeal to families to recite the Rosary, stating that the Rosary would bring blessings in abundance on those who recited it. He stated "the American public needs to be constantly reminded of their dependence of God... to reach these people, we must reach them through the media they are exposed to in their everyday lives... By creating messages with great impact - messages that make one stop and think" Billboards were erected all over America on the main highways with a special message for those reading them.
”The Family That Prays Together Stays Together"
The more people Fr. Peyton reached the greater the urge within him to extend his Crusade still further. The Crusade came to Great Britain in 1951-52 when a large crowd gathered in Wembley Stadium. A series of Crusades and forty rallies were held in England. The Crusade team worked hard in England advertising and promoting the Family Rosary. Even in the land of the Anglican Church, the secular press found the preaching and sincerity of the priest remarkable. In 1953 the Rosary Crusade spread to Australia and New Zealand and a year later it came to Ireland.
Rosary Crusade in Ireland
The Family Rosary Crusade was opened by Most Rev. Dr. Walsh at the G.A.A. Stadium in Tuam on April 25th 1954. From all over the Archdiocese of Tuam people were arriving all day and hundreds of motor cars lined the roads approaching the town. For more than an hour before the rally began hundreds of men, women and children formed and walked in procession to the Stadium reciting the Rosary as they went. The Crusade then headed to Clifden where people from all parts of Connemara gathered for the second rally. Next came the Knock rally, which coincided with many special pilgrimages to the Shrine where remarkable scenes of devotion were witnessed throughout the day. The Crusade was now well under way and rallies in Gort, Ennistymon, Galway City, Loughrea, Ballaghaderreen, Roscommon Town and Sligo Town were all held during the month of May.
The Rally came to the diocese of Killala at the beginning of June with rallies in Belmullet and in James Stephens Park in Ballina where about 15,000 people turned up to hear local man Fr. Peyton speak about the Rosary. The Crusade headed north where rallies in Belfast, Ballymena and Downpatrtick were held. Further rallies in Navan, Mullingar, Dungravan, Waterford, Clonmel meant that the Crusade had travelled most of the country. The great finale of the Family Rosary Crusade was held on Sunday August 15th, 1954 at Our Lady's Island, 14 miles from Wexford Town. Over 40,000 people gathered for the 21st and final rally. All throughout Fr. Peyton made impassionate pledges to the Irish people to continue on the noble tradition of the recitation of the Family Rosary.