Fr. Patrick Peyton, who came to be known as the Rosary Priest, popularized the slogan.
Fr. Patrick Peyton, who spent his life promoting family prayer and the Rosary, is the subject of a new documentary film coming out this October. Family Theater Productions, the media ministry he founded in Hollywood, has debuted the trailer.
The Irish-born priest, who spoke to millions about the Rosary at rallies for decades until his death in 1992, often repeated the phrase “The family that prays together stays together.”
But the catchy phrase was actually coined by a young ad executive and copywriter who was donating his services to the Family Theater radio series in 1947. The ad-man, Al Scalpone, also came up with another phrase Fr. Peyton loved using: “A World at Prayer Is a World at Peace.” Scalpone eventually became a vice president for CBS-TV, according to Wikipedia, but he volunteered with Family Theater Productions for 40 years.
Holy Cross Fr. Wilfred Raymond, President of Holy Cross Family Ministries, told Aleteia June 30 that he had met Scalpone in 2000, “and he informed me that he was the originator of both Peyton sayings.” The information is also contained in a biography of Peyton by Richard Gribble, American Apostle of the Family Rosary.
The two brief phrases, using rhyme and alliteration, are perhaps some of the most long-lived slogans in the history of advertising. They caught on immediately, especially after a Los Angeles outdoor advertising company in 1947 offered to put “The Family That Prays Together Stays Together” on vacant billboards as a public service. Other advertising companies picked up on the gesture, splashing slogans like “Troubled? Try Prayer!,” “Don’t Give Up! Pray. It Works!,” “God Makes House Calls,” and “God Listens” on their unused billboards. Each one was followed by “The Family That Prays Together Stays Together.”
For Fr. Peyton, of course, these were not simply slogans. Prayer, especially in the setting of the family, was ingrained in him from an early age. His father’s dominant quality was his “Spirit of Faith,” which he practiced each night by kneeling and leading the family in the Rosary. His grandparents, too, knelt together as a family and prayed the Rosary nightly.
Over 22 years, Peyton’s weekly Family Theater Productions aired more than 500 radio programs and close to 60 TV specials and films, each featuring major Hollywood stars. He came to be known as the “Rosary Priest.”
In 2001, however, when his cause for canonization was opened, he gained a new title: Servant of God Patrick Peyton.