Chapter 1

The Early Years

Life in Ireland

Family Roots

Patrick's mother and father, Mary and John Peyton.

In County Mayo, Ireland, farmer John Peyton married Mary Gillard in 1899. Patrick Peyton was born on January 9, 1909, and was the 6th of 9 children. 

Patrick’s father was about 42 years old at the time of Patrick’s birth and was already stricken with poor health.

Patrick was baptized on January 10, 1909. 

The family grew up working on a farm and praying the Rosary nightly. 

Patrick's mother and father, Mary and John Peyton.

Father Peyton's birth and baptismal certificate.

Father Peyton's birth and baptismal certificate.

Schooling

1914

Bofield School

In May, at the age of 5, Patrick started school.

1917

School in Bonniconlon

Patrick was living with his grandparents (Robert and Kitty Gillard) at the age of 8 when he attended school near their home.

1923

Bofield School

Before Patrick’s 15th birthday, he left this school because of an incident with Principal Tadhg O’Leary and was enrolled at the school Currower. In 1924 at the age of 15, Patrick left school and returned to work on the family farm.

1928

St. Thomas High School

At the age of 19, Patrick began his freshman year of high school in America at St. Thomas High School in Scranton, PA.

1929

University of Notre Dame

At the age of 20 Patrick and his brother, Tom, started their second year of high school at Holy Cross Minor Seminary, under the shadow of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

A "Spirit of Faith" Influences Patrick Early

The Rosary brings Mary, Our Lady, the Mother of God, to life

John Peyton – Patrick's father's dominant quality was his “Spirit of Faith” and he practiced this faith each night by kneeling and leading the family in the Rosary.  

 Robert and Kitty Gillard - Patrick lived with his grandparents twice in his life before the age of 9. Again Patrick experiences the “Spirit of Faith” as they knelt together as a Family and prayed the Rosary nightly. 

A farmer from a nearby village needed help picking potatoes. While staying with them, Patrick realized that this family is different than his, as there is no “Spirit of Faith” and no Family Rosary. Patrick decided to share his love for Mary and the Family Rosary with this family and they begin to pray the Rosary nightly.

John Barrett - At the age of 9 one of Patrick’s friends, John Barrett, arranged for him to serve Mass. This was a high honor in his parish and Patrick’s desire to become a priest began to form.

Parish Missions and Applications to Seminaries

Pat, left, and his brother Tom, right, taking a stroll down a country road.

Pat, left, and his brother Tom, right, taking a stroll down a country road.

From age 9 to age 17, Patrick’s desire to become a priest grew with each retreat and talk given at St. Joseph Parish in Attymass. However, his applications to the seminary were rejected and he refocuses on a career.

  • Redemptorists (Italy)– These priests were the first to suggest the priesthood to Patrick.
  • Capuchins(Italy) – Patrick believed that this was the community for him so he wrote a letter to them. He never heard from them and felt rejected. 
  • Society of African Missionaries (Africa) – His parish priest thought that maybe Patrick could get a scholarship to go but he was rejected again: “We are sorry ... but Patrick is not up to the required standard in mathematics.”

After his rejections Patrick decided against what seemed to be a “foolish dream” of becoming a priest and focuses on becoming a millionaire in America.