Baltimore Archdiocese to send
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, a priest whose popular radio and television programs promoted family prayer, is a step closer to sainthood.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore recently completed an exhaustive investigation into Father Peyton's life and ministry, and archdiocesan officials were preparing to send copies of its 16,000-page report to the
Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien celebrated the closing of the archdiocesan inquiry with a July 20 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in
Citing the archdiocese's experience with other sainthood causes, the
Father Gilbert Seitz, Archbishop O'Brien's delegate for the inquiry, said the
Church authorities will then investigate possible healings that could be attributed to Father Peyton's intercession. If a healing is determined to be miraculous, Father Peyton -- currently known as a servant of God -- will be declared blessed. Another miracle will be needed for him to be canonized.
Father Peyton, who came to the
"It was fascinating coming to know Father Peyton," said Father Seitz, noting that approximately 80 witnesses who knew or worked with Father Peyton were interviewed for the report. There were 50 witnesses from the
"He was fierce in his loyalty to the church and he was very proud to be Catholic and to share his faith," Father Seitz said told The Catholic Review,
Dolores Hope, widow of entertainer Bob Hope, was among the American witnesses interviewed. Joseph Campanella, a Hollywood actor, also gave testimony. Father Peyton came to know them and many movie stars and celebrities after founding Family Theater Productions in
The priest also conducted rosary crusades for millions of people in dozens of countries.
"He was extremely dedicated to promoting devotion to the Blessed Mother through the rosary," said Father Seitz.
"Our task was to coordinate the gathering of all that information," he said. "We also gathered archival material. A historical commission was appointed and its members visited seven different archival depositories to gather historical documents."
Father Peyton, the "rosary priest," is well known for coining these phrases: "The family that prays together, stays together," and "A country without prayer is a country without peace."
Eileen Gerwin, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Angels in Catonsville, served as Father Peyton's first secretary from 1945 to 1948 in
"He used to dictate letters to me after school and I would type them up," remembered Gerwin, who was one of the witnesses in the inquiry. "They went out to priests and bishops and others to promote the rosary."
Gerwin remembered Father Peyton as being a "gentle" and "brilliant" man who was wholly devoted to Mary.
"He loved her and didn't mind telling people all she did for him and his family," Gerwin said. "He dedicated every minute of his life to her. I never remember him going to a play or a sports event or movie. He almost seemed to have no other passion than our Blessed Mother."
Gerwin said she felt like she was in the presence of a holy person whenever she was near Father Peyton.
"There's no doubt in my mind he's a saint," she said.
Amidst the many issues that an organization as large and diverse in their thinking as the Ancient Order of Hibernians can find to disagree on, I think that we could all agree that this is truly wonderful news. It should be especially well received by our Past National Chaplains Fr. Patrick Sullivan and Fr. Bartley MacPhaidin both of whom are also members of the Holy Cross Order.