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He's not a saint--yet

Discussion in 'Catholic DIR' started by Scott1, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

    Jul 9, 2004
    Easton ministry builds case for founder Father Peyton's (Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton... S.O.G.F.P.P.... get it?) canonization

    They arrive in plain envelopes, mixed with the regular mail the office administrator sorts each day at Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton. She sets aside any correspondence detailing how someone's sickness was cured or their life improved after they sought assistance from the Rev. Patrick Peyton. The late Roman Catholic priest founded Holy Cross Family Ministries, a collective of parish missions, educational programs, and a media production company promoting family prayer.

    At the ministries' headquarters, a campaign is underway to have Peyton declared a saint. For Peyton to enter into sainthood, the Vatican must be convinced that he was responsible for two miracles. The letters on Campanello's desk may contain bits of evidence that Holy Cross officials need to navigate a process in which divine intervention meets political bureaucracy. So Campanello documents each one carefully.

    The Rev. John Phalen, president of Holy Cross Family Ministries, hopes Peyton's sainthood would bolster the group's mission to promote family prayer, especially the saying of the Rosary.

    Phalen hopes Peyton becomes the patron saint of saying the Rosary. The charismatic priest promoted the prayer all his life and was widely known as ''The Rosary Priest." Phalen said many people identify with his blue-collar upbringing and his Irish immigrant background. The Hollywood celebrities he rubbed elbows with during his 50-year career also don't hurt the cause.

    But, Phalen added, ''We're not just trying to create some American idol, or glorify someone for the sake of fame."

    Peyton died in 1992 and is buried in a small cemetery for Holy Cross priests along Route 138, near his organization's world headquarters.

    The media-savvy Catholic visionary promoted prayer on TV and radio during the 1940s and 1950s. Ordained in 1941, he began his priesthood in Albany, N.Y., where he founded the Family Rosary ministry and hosted a local radio show, encouraging families to pray the Rosary together, as he did growing up in County Mayo, Ireland.

    In 1945, Peyton approached the Mutual Broadcasting System and asked for a half-hour time slot to promote prayer nationwide. He made his debut on national radio on Mother's Day 1945, and continued to broadcast through the 1960s, enlisting well-known Hollywood entertainers such as Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, and Shirley Temple as guests.

    Peyton also founded Family Theater Productions, a company that helped launch the careers of James Dean, who in 1951 appeared in the company's movie ''Hill Number One," and eventual ''Star Wars" director George Lucas, who manned a camera in the 1960s for a short Family Theater Productions film that starred up-and-coming actor William Shatner, who later starred in TV's ''Star Trek."

    In addition to his radio and TV work, Peyton held Rosary rallies, and was known for coining such phrases as ''The family that prays together, stays together," and, ''A world at prayer is a world at peace." Family Theater Productions, the media arm of the Holy Cross Family Ministries, still uses Peyton's mottoes on billboards, along with newer slogans like ''God Makes House Calls" and ''Got Faith?" -- a religious twist on a popular dairy marketing campaign. The prayer slogans have appeared on more than 60,000 billboards in 37 states, according to the Holy Cross Family Ministries Internet website, www.familyrosary.org.

    Peyton's Family Rosary ministry eventually expanded to 14 countries, and has international offices in Bangladesh, Brazil, East Africa, Haiti, India, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Uruguay, and Ireland.

    In 2000, Holy Cross Family Ministries built its world headquarters in North Easton, next to Stonehill College, a Catholic school founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

    The world headquarters is known as the Father Peyton Center, a spacious building that houses the Holy Cross Family Ministries administrative offices, a chapel, a book store, conference space for retreats and seminars, and archives. The walls along one hallway are lined with black and white photographs showing Peyton with such celebrities as Ed Sullivan, Bob Newhart, Jimmy Durante, and other big names of his era.

    The campaign to declare Peyton a saint began in June 2001. Getting someone inducted into sainthood is difficult, though it has gotten easier under Pope John Paul II, who has canonized upwards of 480 people, more than any other pope, after cutting the required number of miracles in half.

    In Peyton's case, the first step toward sainthood, an examination of his life, was done by Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley, who was head of the Fall River diocese in 2001. After the Vatican made sure ''he's not a gangster or something," Phalen said, the Catholic Church leadership made Peyton an official candidate for sainthood by giving him the title ''Servant of God."

    The next step involves collecting more information on Peyton's life. A postulator and a vice-postulator, who serve as a candidate's advocates, are researching Peyton's career and hearing testimony to make their case to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. If they get the green light from that panel and approval from the pope, Peyton would earn the title ''Venerable."

    For a candidate to reach the next level, officials must prove a miracle took place after a living person sought Peyton's assistance in a request for God. Phalen noted that Catholics do not pray to saints, they pray with them. Since saints are holy and closer to Heaven, Catholics seeking favors from God can ask a saint to advocate for them, Phelan said.

    Holy Cross Family Ministries encourages Catholics to pray for Peyton's elevation. People can also fill out a petition requesting a divine favor and mail it to the Easton headquarters. The requests are placed before the altar at the chapel in the Father Peyton Center.

    Since Peyton's death, Holy Cross Family Ministries has received 8,400 requests for divine favors, and about 165 favors have been granted, church officials said.

    A family in the Philippines reported receiving three divine favors through Peyton within a week in September 2002: One daughter landed a job on Sept. 11, another received a raise on Sept. 13, and their father won a municipal election on Sept. 16.

    Another Filipino man turned to Peyton for help with three requests, including his dream of immigrating to the United States. He wrote to the Holy Cross Family Ministries that his prayers had been answered: He got a visa, his sister fully recovered from a serious operation, and he tracked down a long-lost brother.

    A man in England wrote to say that the psoriasis on his forehead cleared up three days after praying for it to go away, thanks to Peyton's intercession.

    Other letters sent to Easton detail a supplicant's recovery from spinal injuries, or the regaining of lost vision, or the overcoming of depression.

    If one of the divine favors can be proven to be a miracle, Peyton will be eligible for beatification. At that point, he would receive the title ''Blessed," and he would be one miracle away from being declared a saint. A second verified miracle after beatification would move Peyton toward the final step: canonization.

    As vice-postulator for Peyton's ''cause for sainthood," the Rev. Mario Lachapelle is responsible for keeping records of favors requested and received through Peyton. His assistant, Campanello, works at the ministries headquarters. She sits in a large cubicle and opens the mail. She types summaries of each letter into her computer and all requests are taken to the chapel.

    The letters then go to the center's in-house archivist, David Goodrich, who stores correspondence in a small, climate-controlled room with white cinderblock walls and concrete floor. The temperature is kept at 50 degrees. Under the yellowish glow of the long fluorescent lights, Goodrich carefully files each document in a large rolling shelving system. The archives contain photographs, letters, and other documents pertinent to Peyton.

    This month, postulator Andrea Ambrosi will visit East Africa to investigate a potential miracle connected to Peyton. A Ugandan woman who was HIV-positive reported that, after praying for Peyton's help, tests showed she was free of the virus. The bishop from the area has collected information on the woman's case, and the postulator will verify the information and speak with doctors, said Phalen.

    ''This could be very significant for the cause," he said.

    Previously, a possible miracle was investigated but could not be verified. A Syracuse, N.Y., woman who was suffering from osteoporosis reported that she was healed thanks to Peyton. But it could not be proven whether medication and other treatment had also played a role in her recovery.

    ''Her family and friends prayed and her bone healed in such a way that there was no medical explanation for the healing," said Susan Wallace, communications director for the ministries. ''The doctor was willing to discuss it with folks. However, that one didn't meet the criteria for it to be considered a miracle."

    Catholics often visit Peyton's grave in North Easton. Some drape Rosary beads on his headstone.

    ''It's fascinating," said Wallace. ''It's very significant. There aren't many saints in the United States. [Peyton] is buried right here. A lot of people don't know that . . . he's right in their backyard, in little old Easton."

  2. robtex

    robtex Veteran Member

    Oct 14, 2004
    So Scott, lets say he becomes a saint..what does that entail and what does that mean to the Catholic church....in laymens terms...Interesting never heard of this before.....
  3. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

    Jul 9, 2004
    I have an article in the Resources section that goes into a little bit of detail about the process.... if I can ask you to check there please.

    As far as what it means to me.... well, I'm sure you can tell by my name (SOGFPP) that I have a love for Father Pat.... his Sainthood, to me, would allow many more people to involve Father Pat in their prayers... and in their devotions....and more importantly would be the continuation of his message (devotion to Mary, family prayer, the ROSARY!).

    Hope this helps.

    ** by the way: my avatar is Father Peyton **
  4. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

    Dec 6, 2004
    That was an interesting article. Thanks for posting it :).
  5. SK2005

    SK2005 Saint in training

    Dec 28, 2004
    Good Ol' Father Peyton...