Father Patrick Peyton: New Profile of Family Theater’s Own ‘Rosary Priest’

Patrick-Peyton-John-Paul-II-Mother-Teresa-Bing-Crosby-FFBSeventy years ago this past February 13, Family Theater Productions went on the air on the Mutual Broadcasting System with a radio drama called “Flight From Home,” starring Loretta Young and Don Ameche, with host Jimmy Stewart. Here’s a post we put up to mark the birthday on our Facebook page:

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The driving force behind it all was Irish-born Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., a Holy Cross priest with deep devotions to Our Lady and to the rosary — and blessed with the Irish gift of persuasion. Using all three, he founded Family Theater Productions, appeared at huge rosary rallies around the world and became one of the Church’s earliest modern-media evangelists.

He also popularized the famous phrases, “The family that prays together stays together,” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”

Visit FatherPeyton.org, which pays tribute to his life.

Today, Catholic Web site Aleteia pays tribute to Father Peyton with a lovely profile that also includes information on his sainthood cause. Here’s a taste (click here for the whole thing):

Without having any background or influence in mass media, Father Peyton went to New York and convinced a woman from the Mutual Broadcasting System that the nation needed a Catholic radio program. The non-Christian woman decided to give Father Peyton a chance on one condition: he needed to enlist the help of Hollywood stars.

Father Peyton nervously called Bing Crosby and somehow, with the help of Our Lady, was able to win him over for the cause. The radio show hit airwaves on May 13, 1945 and featured “Archbishop Spellman of New York, President Harry Truman, Bing Crosby and the parents and sister of the Sullivan family of Iowa leading the Rosary… Father Peyton finished the program with an impassioned plea for families to pray the Rosary together for peace.”

The success of the first show was overwhelming and listeners were asking for more.

Father Peyton then went on a crusade to make his show a regular program, and established Family Theater Productions in 1947 with Hollywood stars eager to support him in his work. His various productions would go on to feature stars such as “Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, Rosalind Russell, Jimmy Stewart, Helen Hayes, Ronald Reagan, James Dean, Natalie Wood, Robert Young, Raymond Burr, Lucille Ball, Bob Newhart, Jack Benny, Loretta Young and Frank Sinatra.”

To learn more and sample Father Peyton’s productions — and what Family Theater is still producing — visit us on YouTube and UStream.

For a glimpse into the future, get a sample of our upcoming Web series Catholic Central at www.catholiccentral.com.

And, of course, follow us here on our blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Image: Family Theater Productions

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett to Produce ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’ Movie

Our-Lady-GuadalupeThere have been movies and TV specials about Our Lady of Guadalupe before, as we outlined here in December — but none of them was a big Hollywood feature. Now, that’s about to change.

As reported by Deadline.com, veteran screenwriter Joe Eszterhas  (“Basic Instinct,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Flashdance”), a Hungarian-born Catholic, has penned a new script about Juan Diego’s vision of the Madonna in 1571 Mexico, and taken it to LightWorkers Media, run by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. Through Lightworkers, the movie will go to MGM, where Burnett is also president of television and digital media.

Here’s some of what Deadline had to say (the article also tells the whole story of Juan Diego, which is a bit of surprise for a secular entertainment-news outlet):

Eszterhas had been working on the script long before the faith-based push became popular at Hollywood studios.

The thought about writing a screenplay about Our Lady of Guadalupe came to him 14 years ago during what he calls his life-changing “Christian conversion.” The screenwriter would later write a book entitled Crossbearer to share his story about that moment sitting on the curb in his cul-de-sac in 2001 at his wits end after battling cancer and addiction. A man who was once the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood with a wild lifestyle was now feeling defeated, and found himself begging God for help. That’s when something other-worldly happened.

When he regained his health, Eszterhas traveled to Mexico City to do research and to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe to help him become a messenger for God. The end result is the spec script that Lightworkers just picked up.

Eszterhas told Deadline that his wife, Naomi, inspired to write the script about the Blessed Mother as she herself, felt a closeness to her. Downey herself played the Blessed Virgin Mary in both Son of God and the TV mini-series The Bible.

As soon as we get an idea of casting or a release date, we’ll let you know.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

 

What’s Your Story? Catholic Media Pros Share Personal Journeys (and What’s Next!)

Joseph-Nesta-Immaculate-Heart-Radio-Nancy-Usselmann-Daughters-Saint-Paul-Patrick-CoffinFrom the beginning of the time, one thing holds true — everyone’s got a story.

For Catholics, some of us are cradle Catholics, others are converts, and others are reverts (baptized Catholics who left the Faith but came back). These stories have been the backbone of EWTN’s “The Journey Home” for many years.

In our “Faith and Media” series, we’ve been talking to Catholic media figures about media evangelization, the importance of family prayer and so on. But we also asked them about their own faith journeys.

Or in the case of  podcaster, author, speaker and radio host Patrick Coffin, how he wound up at the 2016 Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, where we recorded this first round of interviews.

Two other subjects more directly address their personal story of faith.

Sister Nancy Usselmann,  national director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies talks about what brought her — a pop-music and movie fan — into the Daughters of Saint Paul, which lets her talk about Christ through media, as a “cultural mystic.”

Joseph Nesta, the senior community relations officer for Immaculate Heart Radio speaks from the heart about how Catholic media brought him into greater knowledge and practice of the Faith.

We just finished a new round of “Faith in Media” interviews, so keep your eye out for future installments with “Catholic Answers Live” host Cy Kellett, blogger and former CBS News journalist Deacon Greg Kandra, moral theologian Pia de Solenni of the Augustine Institute, “Papal Ninja” Sean Bryan of “American Ninja Warrior,” and Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Orange.

Image: Courtesy Family Theater Productions/Sister Nancy Usselmann/Patrick Coffin

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

‘The Shack': FTP’s Father David Guffey Talks About the Controversial New Movie

The-Shack-Sam-Worthington-Octavia-SpencerComing out this weekend, “The Shack,” based on best-selling book by William Paul Young, explores what happens when a grieving father (Sam Worthington) has an encounter with all three Persons of the Trinity, played by different actors — including “Hidden Figures” star Octavia Spencer as God the Father, or “Papa.”

Personifying the Trinity, and other aspects of the book’s theology, have caused some concerns.

Secular outlet The Hollywood Reporter had this to say:

With its sparkly spin on the New Testament, the film will be too New Agey for those who hew closely to doctrine (some conservative Christians have criticized the novel as a work of misguided heresy). But beyond theological debates, the feature is a leaden, belabored affair. However universal the perennial questions and struggles that The Shack illuminates, under Stuart Hazeldine’s plodding direction, its faith-based brand of self-help feels like being trapped in someone else’s spiritual retreat — in real time.

And this, from Catholic deacon and movie critic Steven Greydanus:

Like many popular sensations, from Titanic to Twilight, from Dan Brown to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, The Shack is easy to rip apart if one has a mind to. It’s too didactic for drama, too literal for allegory, too artless for poetry, and too fuzzy for theology. The writing is folksy and florid; when Mack falls in his driveway, he doesn’t just get a bump on his head: The lump emerges “like a humpbacked whale breaching the wild waves of his thinning hair.”

Although an enthusiastic cover blurb from Eugene Peterson compares The Shack to Pilgrim’s Progress, generically and thematically it’s somewhat closer to C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. Lewis’ brilliant book, however, focuses on familiar foibles of human nature; Young attempts a portrait of sorts of the divine nature.

The Shack is essentially an imaginative exploration of theodicy, of the problem of evil, experienced not in the abstract, but as an existential crisis of faith. More broadly, it could be called a response to disappointment with God and disillusionment with religion.

David GuffeyAlso concerned, CatholicMom.com founder Lisa Hendey turned to our own Head of Production, Father David Guffey, C.S.C., to get his take. Here’s some of what he had to say:

The film is not a religious teaching on the doctrine of Trinity, any more than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is a study of physical appearance of God. Each of these use artistic license to point to great truths of faith. Film is an art form and as art, evokes the imagination to discover mystery of life and the workings of God’s grace within it. I would not use this film to talk about Trinity, but instead as an opening to discuss the many ways that God is close to us and the ways that God actively tries to be part of our lives in the best of times and especially in the hardest of times.

I would encourage you to see this film with someone you can talk about it with afterwards. You will want to. It would be a great family movie night film the weekend of March 3, 2017.

After watching the film, invite family members to talk about the times in their life when they feel closest to God. Is it in nature or in a church or at a family gathering? How do we recognize the hand of God at work I the people around us and the events of our lives? Second, and perhaps more difficult, I would encourage a conversation on how the Phillips family coped with loss and grief.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Image: Courtesy Lionsgate

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

5 for First Friday: Family-Friendly Viewing for the Month of March

Shark-Tank-castIt’s the First Friday of March, and we’re starting a new feature, spotlighting family-friendly viewing each month. Enjoy!

“Shark Tank”: There are always several episodes available to view on ABC.com and on Hulu, but watching “Shark Tank” live on Friday nights can be a nice way to start the weekend.

Though the reality show is its eighth season, and is already a multiple Emmy-award winner, the new episodes continue to be as fresh and exciting as the ideas that each entrepreneur brings into the “tank,” in search of funding from the panel of “sharks.”

Every episode presents a real opportunity to witness the American dream come true for hardworking and creative people, and gives viewers an insight into what it takes to win over investors.

This week, a mom from San Diego and two brothers get their shot. There’s also a profile on “shark” Robert Herjavec who shares his story about immigrating as a child from Eastern Europe to North America, escaping Communism and how this experience influenced his very impressive business success.

“Lark Rise To Candleford”: If you’re looking for a television series to binge-watch without having to worry about “explaining” questionable scenes and storyline choices to your kids, this BBC show—set in the English countryside and chronicling the small town life of its characters—ran for four complete seasons and every episode is available to watch on Amazon Prime. It is clean but also charming, heartwarming but also clever… as you might expect a British show to be.

“peg + cat”: This an animated kids series is in its second season on PBS right now, but if you have a preschool or kindergarten-aged child and you haven’t yet given it a shot, it’s worth checking out with them. There are several episodes available on Amazon Prime and YouTube—some for free and others for a small fee.

The show introduces basic math to little ones in a way they can understand. It is surprising how capable young children are of picking up introductory math concepts (like counting, recognizing patterns, sorting, proportions, drawing diagrams) if presented in a way they’re entertained by—and if you have daughters, you may especially appreciate that the protagonist is a little girl.

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Research continually shows that girls are less confident and more anxious about math than boys are, even at a very young age. The show provides a female role model who demonstrates skills—especially creative and persistent problem solving—that are vital to understanding math and eventually science as well. The other plus to “peg + cat” is that if you watch this show alongside your child, you will also get ideas on how to incorporate math concepts into simple games and exercises at home.

“Savoring Our Faith”: Although many are aware of the existence of EWTN Global Catholic Television Network, the expansiveness of their programming seems to be a better kept secret. Did you have any clue that EWTN has its own cooking show?!

The host, Fr. Leo Patalinghug, is quite likeable, a skilled chef and adept at weaving lessons from the Bible into lessons for the kitchen. You can find the list of episodes and airdates here—from the U.S. and Canada all the way to Africa and the Pacific Rim—or just check it out on YouTube.

You can also watch EWTN live online.

“Heartland” – Another not-so-well known programming outlet for families? Light TV. Light TV is a digital broadcast network that was launched by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey at the end of last year. When over-the-air stations — your local network affiliates and independent channels — went digital, the expanded bandwith capacity meant there were digital “subchannels” available. Some show programming related to the main channel; others are given over to independent networks, like Light TV.

They can be accessed with a digital antenna or on selected cable systems. Click here for an earlier blog post about the network and how to find it.

The series and movies that air on Light TV are chosen specifically because of their family-friendly nature, so while the content is not brand new, it may be new to you and you can be sure it’s pretty safe to watch with your kids.

“Heartland” was one of the first shows to air on Light TV and definitely represents the vibe that Light TV is aiming to accomplish. A Canadian series, which is in its tenth season and continues to film original episodes, follows a family with a love for horses and a common goal to keep their ranch running after they suffer a serious tragedy. The show is also available to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Just one parenting note: I would skip over the opening scenes as they contain some content regarding the aforementioned tragedy that could be scary for little kids.

See you next month!

Korbi is a former full-time TV blogger, writing for sites such as E! Online and Yahoo!. She is now a full-time mom of twin boys. In her free time, she moonlights as a Marriage, Family & Individual Therapist.

Image: Courtesy ABC

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Launching Lent: Fr. Tony Ricard, Patrick Coffin and Other Catholic Media Pros Reflect on Family Prayer

Sister-Nancy-Usselmann-Joseph-Nesta-Patrick-Coffin-Father-Tony-Ricard-Family-PrayerToday — Wednesday, March 1 — is Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of the Lenten season. In case you were wondering what Lent is all about, here’s Family Theater’s new video explaining it:

One thing all Catholic families can do better is praying together, and Lent may be a perfect time to jump-start that in your home. As part of our ongoing “Faith in Media” series, we talked to Catholic mcdia professionals about the importance of family prayer.

To start with, podcaster, author, speaker and radio host Patrick Coffin gave us his own family prayer:

Coffin also offered us a longer take on family prayer, emphasizing that family prayer is the “great untried solution” to many of the ills besetting the modern family, including divorce and the splintering of family members.

Father Tony Ricard, a priest, speaker, author and evangelist from the Archdiocese of New Orleans discussed the importance of not only talking but listening in prayer, and how we, as a people, have to be “about the business of God.”

Then, Joseph Nesta, senior community-relations officer for Immaculate Heart Radio, told us about how saying a family rosary can create beautiful memories.

Finally, Sister Nancy Usselmann, F.S.P., of the Daughters of Saint Paul, the national director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, explains how family prayer nourished her own vocation, that of her priest brother, and of her married sister and single sister.

Pray on!

Images: Courtesy Family Theater Productions

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.