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Father Peyton

By: Allison Gingras on June 2nd, 2024

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Father Peyton's Lifesaving Intercession

Venerable Patrick Peyton  |  Intercessory Prayer  |  pray the rosary

In 2013, my oldest son, Ian, and I traveled with the Deaf Apostolate of Boston to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. Just four years earlier, our family had adopted a sweet little girl from China, who is Deaf. This trip offered an opportunity to not only become more acquainted with the Catholic Deaf community but also allowed further instruction in interpreting the Mass in American Sign Language. The most remarkable blessing came from learning the ASL for the Liturgy from Father Shawn Carey, himself Deaf. This alone already brimmed with God's Divine Providence; little did I know, God was only warming up!

 

The Journey Begins

The trip began long before I stepped on an airplane, with me sitting at Father Peyton's grave praying the Rosary. I am fortunate to live close to Holy Cross Family Ministries Headquarters and the cemetery where now, Venerable Patrick Peyton is interred, which offers the blessings of frequent pilgrimages to pray there. A woman with acute anxiety, I knew I needed divine assistance to help me overcome my fear and accept this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime gift from God.

My prayer was simple: Father Peyton, please come with me on this trip. I even slipped a little pebble I picked up near his headstone into my pocket. In case you are wondering, I did eventually confess my rock thievery to the President of Family Rosary and have been forgiven for it. 

 

crowded beach

 

Father Peyton to the Rescue

 

Father Peyton did not take long to show his kind assistance once in Rio. First came the miraculous respite from returning to Copacabana Beach after a harrowing WYD opening night. My ardent prayers to not return for the next night's festivities were answered when the emcee announced that the venue for English-speaking pilgrims would be live-streaming the evening’s events! I know Fr. Pat had come to my assistance when the emcee added this special opportunity was being made possible by the generosity of Holy Cross Family Ministries! 

However, it did not take long for my anxiety to ramp into high gear. Although safe that night, what about the rest of the trip? Should I stay behind when my group returned to the beach the following night? The thought of being back where we were nearly trampled trying to exit the beach overwhelmed my sensibilities. I clutched my Rosary and begged for heaven's help.

 

A Safe Place

 

As I sat lost in my thoughts, thinking about the previous night when I had prayed to Father Peyton for help as I feared for my life, and those of the millions of people trying to exit the beach. How, I felt that rock in my pocket with the words, "Allison, you have faith, use it!" Just as young Pat, a seminarian dying of Tuberculosis had heard from Father Haggerty, C.S.C., when faced with two options for survival -- a risky surgery or prayer. He prayed to the Blessed Mother, and the Lord had mercy. Maybe if I prayed to her, I too would find the Lord's mercy upon me.

Suddenly, I heard the word "rock" come from the large screen projecting the Stations of the Cross at the WYD main venue. It jarred me out of my dark thoughts. I added the rock in my pocket from Father Peyton's grave to the hand nervously fingering my Rosary beads. The Holy Spirit nudged me to stop worrying, trust in God, and, while I was at it, get up and go find a priest for confession.

 

Peyton Grave

 

Heavenly Surprises

 

Just as I entered the Confession area, they announced the line was closed. Confident the Holy Spirit truly moved me to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation; the closure perplexed me. At that moment, I needed to be back in my seat and nearly toppled a priest over in my haste. A kind voice excused himself as if the near-collision were his fault. Gathering my senses, I realized my poor victim was none other than the then-president of Family Rosary, Father John Phalen, C.S.C. What, how could this be? There were thousands of people in this building, yet here I was, standing facing one of the men continuing Fr. Peyton's amazing work. Out of my mouth, blurted, "Will you hear my confession!" Of course, he agreed, however, heaven still wasn't done helping.

After my confession, I shared with Father Phalen my fears about returning to the WYD festivities. My concerns were not just for me but also for my group, which included deaf and hard-of-hearing pilgrims facing challenges, not only navigating the dark beach but, more importantly, maintaining sign language communication. Father Phalen lit up as he conveyed his discovery just that morning of a section reserved for pilgrims needing special assistance. He quickly connected us to someone who could assure our group had appropriate, safe, accessible seating for the remainder of the WYD festivities. He even forgave my rock pilfering, amused because of the Rosary's early history connection to rocks.

We both felt, without a doubt, that Father Peyton had indeed taken me up on my plea to come along to Rio.

About Allison Gingras

Allison Gingras ( ReconciledToYou.com) considers herself a new media evangelist. Authoring The Handy Little Guide to Novenas (OSV), Encountering Signs of Faith (Ave Maria Press) and the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (Our Sunday Visitor), which includes a new title in 2025, Jesus Heals. Allison is a Digital Content and Social Media Specialist for Family Rosary, Catholic Mom, and the Fall River Diocese.