As I type, I’m sitting in a midcentury-modern building on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood, headquarters of Family Theater Productions, founded in 1947 by an Irish Holy Cross priest named Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C.
Today, Dec. 19, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had approved a decree asserting that Father Peyton, previously titled Servant of God, had lived a life of heroic Christian virtue and now was officially to be called “Venerable.” This is one rung on the ladder to possible sainthood.
As reported in The Washington Post:
Secret Vatican committees of doctors, cardinals, theologians and bishops must now certify a miracle attributed to each man’s intercession in order for him to be beatified. A second miracle is needed to be made a saint.
And from Holy Cross Ministries, a family of ministries that includes Family Theater Productions:
The Positio on the life, virtues and reputation of holiness of Father Peyton had previously been discussed and approved by a panel of nine theologians and more recently by a group of 15 Cardinals and Archbishops who voted affirmatively to recognize his heroic virtues. The Positio refers to the volume containing the evidence that was collected from witness testimonies and supporting documents during inquiries carried out by special tribunals in several dioceses.
Hundreds of testimonies to Father Peyton’s heroic virtue and holiness of life have been recorded. Tens of thousands of prayer cards containing a prayer for a favor through Father Peyton’s intercession are in circulation. Hundreds of favors have been reported. Some of these favors are remarkable healings for which there is no medical explanation. Should one of these healings be officially recognized as having no scientific explanation and approved by the Vatican as a miracle due to his intercession, it would lead to his beatification.
Father Peyton is not yet beatified — that’s where someone is called “Blessed” — and beyond “Blessed” is canonization, or sainthood. But a cause has been underway for some time for Father Peyton to be declared a saint, and he’s one step closer today.
Father Peyton’s particular mission was to the family — encouraging family prayer and especially the Rosary. He’s widely known as the “Rosary Priest” and for originating the message, “The Family That Prays Together Stays Together.”
For decades, he produced faith-based, family radio, film and TV dramas featuring such stars as Bing Crosby, Loretta Young, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, William Shatner, James Dean (who got his first on-camera appearance in an FTP film, playing the Apostle John), Maureen O’Hara, Princess Grace and many more.
Peyton’s apostolate was smack in the middle of the entertainment industry, just east of the famed Sunset Strip and just west of the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. He worked with many Catholic stars, and many that were not.
As our current Head of Production, Father David Guffey, C.S.C., recalls, Father Peyton was once asked why he was working with people whose backgrounds were not spotless. Father Peyton would reply, “It’ll be good for them.”
And it probably was — and for many people in the audience as well.
Here’s the man himself …
And more about him …
Images: Family Theater Productions