By Bishop James Conley
Father Patrick Peyton knew the power of the family rosary.
He was born in 1909, the sixth of nine children, in County Mayo, Ireland. Every night his father led the family in the rosary. They prayed the rosary as the country was split by its independence movement and its civil war. They prayed the rosary as they struggled with poverty, eking a meager living from their small family farm. And Patrick continued to pray the rosary when he immigrated to the United States with his brother in 1928.
Patrick entered the seminary in 1929 and continued his studies until he was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1938. He was expected to die quickly like so many who had succumbed to that dreadful disease. Instead, he asked the Blessed Mother for a miracle, and he recovered. He promised that he would spend his life continuing to foster love for Our Lady.
Father Peyton spent his priesthood urging families to pray the rosary. He had a radio show, which Hollywood celebrities joined, and which urged families to pray the rosary. He launched several television shows. But in 1948, he began the project for which he was most famous, the Family Rosary Crusade.
He spent nearly all the rest of his life travelling the world, urging families to pray the rosary, and sharing with them the power of Our Lady’s intercession.
“The restoration of family prayer is a basic need, and if it is given the chance it will prove itself to be the most efficacious and powerful protection against the dangers of our age,” Father Peyton often said.
He became most well-known for another short phrase: “The family that prays together stays together.”
Father Peyton died in 1992, but his work continues. In December, Pope Francis confirmed his pathway to sainthood, declaring him Venerable Father Patrick Peyton.
The family rosary can work miracles. Families who pray it come to depend on those miracles. But even its ordinary effect is remarkable: the family rosary affirms the leadership of fathers, the loving tenderness of mothers, and the cohesiveness and unity of the family. The family rosary brings people together, with consistency, to rely on the Lord’s grace. I find that it’s easy to see when families pray the rosary together, because the grace of that commitment pours out into the rest of their lives.
It’s also important for parishes to pray the rosary together, and indeed, for the Church in an entire diocese to be united in praying the rosary. This is why the Diocese of Lincoln has undertaken the Eucharistic Family Rosary Crusade—inviting all families to pray the rosary in their homes, and with other families.
On April 29, I will pray the rosary on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, invoking the Blessed Mother’s prayers for the young people at the university, for the conversion of our culture, for the priests and religious of our diocese, and for you, and your families. I invite you to join me at 8 p.m. for this unique Husker Catholic Candle-lit Rosary event. I hope that we can encircle the university in prayer, entrusting to the Blessed Mother a place so important to the life and future of our entire state.
Please join me. Bring your family. The rosary is the most powerful protection against the dangers of our age, as Father Peyton taught. And, the family that prays together stays together!