Fr. Patrick Peyton (1909 -1992)
Sunday, 12th May 2019
St. Charles was beatified by Pope John Paul way back in October,1988. On my way home at Rome airport, I had just sat down having bought my duty free (including some whiskey – for my mother, of course!), when along came Fr. Peyton, the world famous ‘Rosary Priest’ and sat down beside me. And we had a great chat. I told him I had been twice on missions in his home parish of Attymas in Mayo. And he told me that when he was a young lad at home, he had thought of joining us, the Passionists. But that he was put off when two of our men on a parish mission preached such terrifying sermons condemning the drink that the people brought in their stills from the hills around and battered them in bits in the chapel yard! And he was a pioneer, he said, from that day to this! When I heard this, I pushed my duty free a little further under the seat and tried to change the subject to the Pope! He’d just been to see the Pope for a whole hour. What could you talk about for a whole hour, I wondered? He said all the Pope wanted to know about was this: what life was like at home in Ireland when he was growing up. What his father was like? What his mother was like? And, of course, they were both old enough and wise enough to know that there’s nothing more important than where you come from and the family that reared you.
When we look at Jesus, we see the rearing of the home in Nazareth. When we see his great compassion to the outcast and the sinner, his tolerance towards other races and religions, his courage in condemning any kind of hypocrisy in religion or injustice in politics, it’s good to remember he learned all that in a human way at home and especially from Mary. From her too, he learned his humble trusting attitude towards God his Father. That’s what was outstanding in Jesus and that’s also what Elizabeth praises above all else in Mary: “Blessed is she who believed/trusted that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Fr Peyton, whose famous rallying call was “The family that prays together stays together”, staged massive Rosary rallies all over the world. In December 2017, in recognition of his “heroic virtue” Fr Peyton was named Venerable by Pope Francis, a step on the way to Beatification.
Little did I think, as I returned from the Beatification of Charles, that the man I enjoyed talking to at the Airport would himself be one day lined up for Beatification!