JPCatholic Alumni Help Bring Venerable Patrick Peyton to the Big Screen
December 8, 2020
On October 9, Family Theater Productions released Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton in select theaters nationwide. The feature length documentary centers on Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., the famous Hollywood Rosary priest who was dedicated to inspiring millions of families to pray together and coined the famous phrase “The family that prays together stays together.”
Family Theater Productions, itself founded by Father Peyton in Hollywood in 1947, is an award-winning producer of family and faith-based media with a mission to inspire, entertain, and inform. Two of the main filmmakers behind the documentary, Megan Harrington and Jonathan Cipiti, previously collaborated on The Dating Project (2017) and are currently working on their next documentary The House That Rob Built.
Throughout the past decade, a number of JPCatholic students have also worked or interned at Family Theater Productions. Their popular web series Catholic Central is co-hosted by Libby Slater (MBA ‘14), and produced by Susana Duenas (BS ‘17).
Currently, three of the fourteen full-time employees at Family Theater Productions are alumni of JPCatholic. Anne Yancey (MBA ‘16) has been working at Family Theater since 2018, and her role on Pray was Assistant to the Feature Producers and Assistant to the Public Relations and Marketing Director, a position that involved a variety of tasks from managing websites to booking travel and researching locations.
“I really love working at Family Theater Productions,” said Yancey. “I get to work with great people who are passionate about what they do. Every day it’s so nice working for an organization where people have buy-in to the mission, which is to promote family prayer. Mission based work is very meaningful work in Hollywood. When you walk in the actual building you can feel goodness there, and I think people recognize it, and I think people in Hollywood crave it.”
Father Peyton’s legacy has reached millions over the decades, not the least of which are those who worked on the film. “Father Peyton is sort of the most famous person nobody’s ever heard of,” said Yancey. “Nobody knows him, but they all know his message – because he didn’t make it about himself, he made it about the message. He made it about family prayer … Before I worked at Family Theater Productions I hadn’t been exposed to him or his mission, and now I’m grateful for it all the time.”
Matthew Sawczyn (MBA ‘17) worked at the company during the marketing and distribution phase of the film. “Pray is such a moving portrait of a modern saint,” he shared. “Father Peyton was a man who used media for the message of peace and prayer. He was on fire to preach God everywhere, to bring Him to every corner of the globe, especially to Hollywood, where he saw God was needed most. As a young filmmaker, he is an inspiration, a man I want to imitate. And I'm thankful to have learned of him and his story through this film… It's an incredible documentary.”
Nicholas Willey (BS ‘18) was a Post-Production Assistant, which involved combing through hours of archival footage from Father Peyton’s prayer rallies: “I spent several days watching and listening to him as I went through the clips, and I remember just being inspired by his zeal; he was clearly a man in love with Christ.” A number of additional students and alumni also worked on the documentary and its promotion, including Riley Brown, Claire Phillips, Christina Pineda, Miley Durbin, and Meghan Geier.
Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton is still playing in select theaters across the country, and will have a digital release in mid-December. For more information and to find showtimes, visit www.PrayTheFilm.com
Read John Mulderig’s review of the film on Catholic News Service