Family Rosary Crusade

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Family Rosary Crusade
Logo of the Family Rosary Crusade, used until 2001
The Family That Prays Together Stays Together
ClassificationRoman Catholic Marian Family Prayer Movement
OrientationMarian prayers
ModeratorRev. Fr. Wilfred Raymond, C.S.C.
AssociationsFamily Theater/Family Rosary International/Father Peyton Institute
RegionUnited States, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Spain, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Uruguay
FounderVenerable Patrick Peyton, C.S.C.
OriginJanuary 25, 1947
Albany, New York
Branched fromHoly Cross Family Ministries
CongregationsCongregation of Holy Cross
Official website
Since the year 2000, the international office for the mission and legacy of Father Peyton is now in based at 518 Washington Street, North Easton, MA 02356-1200, near where Father Peyton was laid to rest. An office at the original founding location is at 16 Cornell Avenue, Albany, NY 12203.

Family Rosary Crusade is a worldwide campaign that eventually became a Roman Catholic movement founded by Patrick Peyton, an Irish-American priest who is being considered for Sainthood by The Vatican. The endeavor came to be a personal mission to undertake the promotion of the praying of the Rosary by families as a means to unite them. The inspiration to start a campaign came from Peyton's patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom he credits as the one who interceded before God and her son Jesus Christ for his recovery from tuberculosis in 1941.

The campaign's objective is to promote the praying of the Rosary by families. Peyton believed that together as a family, in unison praying the Rosary, the family is united before Christ and drawn closer to God.


The modern day Mission adopted for the Family Rosary Crusade under the stewardship of the Holy Cross Family Ministries:

  • Under the sponsorship of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Holy Cross Family Ministries serves Jesus Christ and His Church throughout the world by promoting and supporting the spiritual well-being of the family.
  • Faithful to Mary, the Mother of God, the Family Rosary and Family Rosary International encourage family prayer, especially the Rosary.
  • Family Theater Productions directs its efforts to the evangelization of culture using mass media to entertain, inspire and educate families.
  • The Father Peyton Family Institute focuses on research and education in family life ministry and the relationship of spirituality to family.


Patrick Peyton was born to an Irish Catholic family, at a time of hardships in the early years of the 20th century. His family were staunchly Catholic farmers, who prayed the Rosary together as a regular practice.

As a child, Peyton had inclinations to pursue a vocation as a priest. Due to poverty and the need to help his family earn a living, that pursuit did not bear fruit until he was already in his twenties as an immigrant in the United States.

As a seminarian he discovered his mission for God at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Peyton was passionate over the spiritual welfare of families, especially those living in squalor who were affected by the Great Depression.

Discovering that he had tuberculosis, Peyton immersed himself in meditation while praying the Rosary. A few months later, doctors discovered that the tuberculosis in his body had disappeared, driving Peyton to a more intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Key components of the crusade[edit]

  • Every family to recite the Rosary together, regardless of class, creed and religion;
  • A continuing process of evangelization,
  • Use of radio, television, outdoor advertising and films to promote the Crusade aims;
  • Set up a Rosary rally in every diocese.

The lifelong crusade[edit]

Upon receiving his first assignment as a newly ordained priest in 1941, Father Peyton was assigned as a chaplain for a school managed by the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Albany, New York.

Father Peyton discovered his mission for the Virgin Mary on January 25, 1942. He was extensively reading the history of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Soldiers of Lepanto, with no hope of winning the war against the Moors, knelt and prayed the Rosary before a perceived losing battle. A miracle occurred when the Moors were defeated and pushed back. This incident, attributed the Blessed Mother, would serve as the preliminary foundations of establishing the crusade of prayer.

As a school chaplain in New York, Father Peyton lived a modest life and in his bedroom cell was a small bed, a study table and a painting of the Madonna and Child by Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Peyton was drawn to the painting, which would serve as the main image of the Virgin Mary for the entirety of his Family Rosary Crusade efforts. The Murillo painting was first used as the cover for a pamphlet called "The Story of the Rosary".

Peyton then began writing to bishops, priests and Catholic lay organizations about the importance of families praying the Rosary. With the help of Holy Cross Sisters in Albany and a friend he would meet there, a priest named Francis Woods, Peyton began his appeals to promote the praying of the Rosary for all families.


His mission to promote the praying of the Rosary needed a much bigger and wider audience and for fifteen minutes, families went on the air on radio to pray the Rosary on a local radio station in Albany, WABY, in October 1943. In 1945, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the largest radio network in the United States at that time, made available a half-hour to broadcast the Rosary. This was dubbed by Father Peyton as "the opportunity of a lifetime". Mutual's owner Ed Kobak set certain requirements in order for Father Peyton to make his broadcast:

  • Invite the most famous, loved and revered family to pray the Rosary;
  • Ask the most famous Hollywood stars to join them;
  • Have the most influential people in the US Church speak; and
  • Choose the most fitting day to have the majority of Americans listening eagerly to a religious broadcast.

On May 13, 1945, Mother's Day and the anniversary of the first of the Fátima apparitions in 1917, Peyton's program debuted on nationwide radio on Mutual Broadcasting System from its studios in Broadway.

The radio broadcast featured the Sullivan family of Iowa who had lost five sons in the recently concluded Second World War to lead the praying of the Rosary, followed by a live endorsement of crooner Bing Crosby, patched from Mutual's Los Angeles radio station.

Father Peyton promoted his mission by sending letters and distributing free Rosary beads and prayer pamphlets. He continued to promote the mission using radio but network executives at Mutual wanted to air programs of Father Peyton with more than just the praying the Rosary. The example set by Bing Crosby could be repeated with other Hollywood stars pitching the call for families praying the Rosary.

Father Peyton journeyed to Los Angeles and started to recruit stars to volunteer to help promote his cause. In his first trip to California, actress Jane Wyatt would serve as his bridge to other celebrities and become lifelong friends.

Family Theater[edit]

With the help of Hollywood personalities, Father Peyton started to produce family values-oriented radio dramas under the banner of "Family Theater of the Air" from Hollywood for his show on Mutual. The first broadcast was made on February 13, 1947 with guest artists Loretta Young, a Protestant, James Stewart and Don Ameche.

What Bing Crosby did, others would do, including the following who gave their names, fame, time and talent to glorify the Rosary and dramatize its mysteries on film, on the radio and on television: Pat O'Brien, Loretta Young, Grace Kelly, James Cagney, Bob Hope, Irene Dunne, Gregory Peck, Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, Rosalind Russell, Jack Benny, Raymond Burr, Barbara Stanwyck, Margaret O'Brien, Helen Hayes, Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara, Jane Wyatt, Ronald Reagan, William Shatner, James Dean and Shirley Temple.

The Family Theater radio programs continued to air until 1969. The program gave rise to the establishment of Family Theater Productions, which opened offices in Hollywood with the mission of developing Christian family values film, radio, television programs and outdoor advertising.

Evangelization through mass media[edit]

A young ad executive and copywriter, Al Scalpone, donated his services to Family Theater in 1947 and wrote the now famous slogan, "The Family That Prays Together Stays Together" as well as "A World at Prayer is a World at Peace " for the radio series. They became the mottos for Father Peyton and his organization. Scalpone, who eventually became a vice president for CBS-TV, volunteered with Family Theater Productions for 40 years.

In 1947, a Los Angeles outdoor advertising company representative was taken by the slogan, "The Family That Prays Together Stays Together", he heard on the Family Theater radio series. The company offered to put the slogan on vacant billboards as a public service. The idea caught on with other advertising companies.

Over the years messages included "Troubled? Try Prayer!", "Don’t Give Up! Pray. It Works!", "God Makes House Calls", and "God Listens" each one followed by "The Family That Prays Together Stays Together".

These messages have appeared on more 100,000 billboards throughout the country, courtesy of outdoor advertising associations and companies, and have been seen more than 400 million times, according to outdoor advertising associations’ estimates. The campaign continues today with three new, contemporary posters designed in 2001, which have received a record number of orders from billboard companies.

Diocesan Rosary rallies[edit]

In 1947, the Diocese of London, Ontario, pioneered the diocesan crusades. The Diocesan Family Rosary Crusade started in Canada with the gathering of pledges from families to commit to the daily prayer of the Rosary as a family unit. The first large-scale Rosary rally was in Saskatchewan, Canada, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, then under the authority of the Benedictines of St. Peter's Abbey, and with the participation of the Bishops of Saskatchewan,[1] where 12,000 attended the rally on September 26, 1948.[2]

In Manila in the Philippines, a million people came together to pray the Rosary. There were also large rallies in Bogotá, Bombay, Johannesburg, Madrid, New York City, San Francisco and Nairobi.

Encouragement were given to the crusades by popes and the Second Vatican Council. In 1987, Pope John Paul II said, "May the Rosary once more become the accustomed prayer of ... the Christian family."

Transitions, same mission[edit]

Father Peyton passed in 1992. The Congregation of Holy Cross organized all units and organizations founded by the Family Rosary Crusade under an umbrella ministry, Holy Cross Family Ministries, which remains committed to the original cause of Father Peyton.

Though there are no Rosary rallies on the scale that Father Peyton did during his lifetime, groups all over the world conduct smaller rosary rallies.


  • Peyton, CSC, Patrick (1996) [1967], All For Her: An Autobiography of Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, Family Theater Publications, Hollywood California, ASIN B0006CCAGY.
  • Shiel, Tom (April 27, 2009), Cardinal urges Christians to twitter, Irish Times.
  • Matilla, Dexter R. (March 31, 2009), ‘Rosary priest’ to be honored with sculpture, Philippines Daily Inquirer, archived from the original on April 30, 2009, retrieved May 8, 2009.
  • Bourke, Toni (April 17, 2009), Fr Peyton remembered at 100th anniversary celebrations, Mayo Advertiser.
  • Schworm, Peter (June 8, 2008), Dozens in Easton pray for canonization of the 'Rosary Priest', Boston Globe.
  • Gribble, Richard (June 22, 2003), Anti-communism, Patrick Peyton, CSC and the C.I.A.(Congregation of Holy Cross), Journal of Church and State/J.M. Dawsons Studies on Church and State.
  • "Fifty Golden Years of the Family Rosary Crusade in the Philippines (1951–2001)" written by Father James B. Reuter, SJ; Gennie Q. Jota; Dean M. Bernardo, edited by Stella J. Villegas 2001 Family Rosary Crusade Foundation, Inc. © 2001
  1. ^ from All for Her (An Autobiography of Fr. Patrick Peyton (1967), by Fr. Patrick Peyton, pp. 128
  2. ^ from "Mary as Mother (The Pilgrimage Shrines of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Saskatchewan)", by J. Lozinsky and H Leier, (1987), page 7

External links[edit]