The Career and Mission of a visionary priest by James Reddiough
The soul and body should be grateful for simple things like the daffodils in the garden and the sound of bird song and the pealing of the chapel bells from the nearby church of Attymass close to the home of this writer as they ring over the Sunday morning air.
Perhaps it was thoughts such as these that inspired and motivated Fr. Pat Peyton of Carracastle, Attymass to a life of Marian devotion and prayer from his earliest days of praying the family rosary in his home in Mayo until he directed the mass rosary rallies of the 1950’s when they were at their zenith.
Just a pleasant drive away from the metropolis that is Ballina there is an oasis of peace and reflection close by the lake in the centre of Attymass called the Patrick Peyton Memorial centre and there is a statue of the pastor there facing north towards his native Carracastle in the Bofield area where Fr. Peyton attended school in the 1910’s and where he was born in January 1909, it was there that this writer received the sad news of his passing from his nephew Tommy in early June 1992.
Just less than a year before this scribe heard him preach in the chapel at Attymass and it was a once in a lifetime experience, this must have been in July 1991 and around this time Fr. Pat had received the Mayo man of the year award due to the campaigning work of research carried out and compiled by national school principal and neighbour An tUasal Seán Mac Raighnaill, NT who wrote a fine booklet on the Rosary priest in 1991 also.
Fr. Peyton was raised in the small farming country of Attymass and Bonniconlon and spent time with his relatives in Gillardstown as well as working for neighbouring farmers in what were the harsh times of the post-world war one years and each night to cope with the hard times his family would gather in the kitchen and pray the rosary. This was a scene that was to remain with the man and the priest all his life and he would speak of it with fondness all his life.
Due to the economic conditions of the 1920’s he was forced to emigrate in 1928 and he settled with his brother Tom in Scranton, Pennsylvania where he worked in the mines and as a sacristan and it was through this job that he was to graduate to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana where he studied for the Priesthood and then disaster struck – he was diagnosed with TB but he set to pray to our lady to cure him and she did and thus began his missionary crusade to promote devotion to her worldwide.
Not only did he pray the rosary but he encouraged others to do so and employed the voices of the stars of the day on radio on the family rosary programmes – can you imagine how he would have utilised the social media of today in this era of mass digital information communications technology a point made some years ago in relation to Fr. Pat Peyton?
He never spared himself and he travelled the world to the furthest flung parts to promote and lead in the praying of the rosary and this centre which was opened in mid-October 1998 is living testimony to his devotion and there are scenes there of the many millions that he addressed and prayed with in James Stephens Park and further afield in the Philippines too.
He was indeed a man of faith and prayer and a true son of mayo and even though he has been dead some quarter of a century almost his influence is with us still.
Written by James Reddiough (Copyright 2017)