Sustaining a 75+ year legacy, Holy Cross Family Ministries (HCFM) brings together the timelessness of prayer and the timeliness of today’s technology to reach, inspire and strengthen the faith of families around the world. The group is committed to honoring its enduring promise to donors – that 100% of their gifts go directly to programs – even as it awaits the potential canonization of its late founder, Father Patrick Peyton.
In 1942, Father Peyton was inspired to begin a ministry that would reach beyond his chaplain duties in Albany, New York, to influence the world. His Albany followers, like millions of others, were enduring the pain of World War II as loved ones departed to fight for the nation and often did not return home. Based on his belief that a family that prays together, stays together and is drawn closer to God, Father Peyton sought and gained approval to create a new ministry – The Family Rosary – and began writing letters to fellow clergy and the faithful, urging them to pray the Rosary every day. This effort earned a great response, but Father Peyton’s next step would extend his vital ministry to a national, and then a global, audience.
After leading a Rosary prayer on an Albany radio station in 1943, Father Peyton grasped the power of that new medium to reach families wherever they lived. Soon, he traveled to Hollywood and earned the participation of many of the day’s top stars, including Bing Crosby, who in 1945 prayed with Father Peyton on the nation’s largest radio network. Ever the innovator, Father Peyton took advantage of TV and film to reach even more people, and began leading rosary rallies in the U.S. and abroad that brought many millions together in prayer. By the time of his passing in 1992, he had built a world-wide ministry while revolutionizing how the Catholic Church reached its faithful. His good works were recognized in December 2017 when Pope Francis issued a decree recognizing Father Peyton as Venerable, a key milestone on the journey to possible sainthood.
Father Peyton’s global mission and spirit of innovation continued to be carried forward passionately by HCFM. Headquartered in Massachusetts, HCFM operates four complementary ministries that foster family prayer and the spiritual wellbeing of families in 17 countries across the globe. Family Rosary supports family prayer through retreats and prayer home visits, and distribution of prayer books, rosaries and digital resources – including an app that has had more than 1.4 million downloads. Family Theater Productions continues the tradition of producing programs, films and other faith-focused media. Father Peyton Family Institutes builds strong families through counseling, spiritual retreats and programs for young and old. Its newest ministry – CatholicMom.com – provides on-the-go parents with faith-based podcasts, articles and activities. Taken together, these ministries represent a rich array of resources that are both leading edge and deeply connected to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
HCFM keeps another dimension of Father Peyton’s legacy alive: that of ensuring that donors’ dollars deliver the greatest possible impact. Donors have been supporting the mission generously since the 1940s, giving both modest amounts and major gifts through estate plans and other means. Recently, HCFM received a $2 million donation from someone who treasured the memory of listening to Father Peyton’s radio broadcasts many decades ago; the donor wanted to ensure that future generations could share in the spiritual experience that had shaped his own life.
HCFM honors this ideal by promising donors that 100% of their gifts will directly support the organization’s various ministries. The organization keeps this promise, in part, through an endowment that is intended to supplement year-to-year donations. The organization invests the endowment to pursue growth with an eye toward supporting the teachings of the Catholic Church. In 2015, HCFM entrusted part of the endowment to a professional investment management firm that creates growth-oriented portfolios that align with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines.
If Pope Francis ultimately canonizes Father Peyton, there already will be a welcoming and engaging place for pilgrims to visit and learn about the “Saint of Family Prayer.” In autumn 2019, The Museum of Family Prayer opened its doors, adding an exciting new dimension to the popular Father Peyton Center in North Easton, Mass. The museum shares the power of family prayer through interactive and immersive exhibits, graphics, and media content, among other facilities. Fittingly, the new museum is a showcase of Father Peyton’s vision and work – and of the unwavering power of prayer.
Find out more about HCFM at their website: www.hcfm.org