How one man’s faith lifted a nation

Ron Walker

Ron Walker

Peter Marshall is a hero to me. His life is portrayed on DVD and Orllyene and I find Richard Todd’s and Jean Peter’s performances flawless and watch it almost every month. Peter is from Scotland where he worked double shifts to pay for his education and fare to America. Peter learned early on to go to God for his decision making and his choices eventually lead to being Chaplain of the Senate.

Early in the film, Catherine (Jean Peters) makes an extemporaneous speech at a youth rally organized by Peter. Peter flubs his chance, and the bleacher is full of young people who aren’t interested. Then Catherine, a student herself, takes the platform and her innocence and sincerity comes through her words. “Today, woman has attained equality with men. Men now boast their sweethearts can drink as much as they can, tell off color jokes and their hair often smells of cigarette smoke. Woman is no longer on the pedestal she once was, when she gave birth to our Savior.” The girls in the audience see the light and are quite contrite. The scene culminates on a high note in the spontaneous singing of “Give me that old time religion” by the audience.” Events follow, Peter and Catherine court, fall in love and marry.

All through the movie, Peter’s sermons are full of positivity, vitality and originality and his flock grows to outlandish proportions. Peter sets his sights on Jesus’s openness to all people-tax collectors, sinners, included. Jesus is a carpenter with rough calloused hands, someone who likes to have a good time and when his host runs out of wine at a marriage celebration, Jesus creates more wine. He eventually becomes paster of the Abraham Lincoln Church in Washington, DC.

Another instance in the film is his sermon at the midshipmen graduation ceremony in Annapolis. Peter uses the analogy of a terminally ill little boy. “What is death, mommy?” he asks after he realizes death is coming. Peter then weaves a simple answer. “It is like when you fall asleep, and your daddy takes you in his arms to your own bed.” Peter goes on to say, when we cross over to heaven our bodies are not old and haggard, but well and strong because we are in the loving presence of our Father, God. It is the perfect sermon for the occasion. The date is December 7, 1941, and in a few hours The Empire of Japan’s planes bomb Pearl Harbor.

Peter and Catherine are put to the test. Catherine catches TB. For three long years Peter does double duty as a parent and pastor while Catherine stays continually in bed. Finally, Catherine talks to God, and says if it is His will, she will abide by it. At that precise moment, Peter is in his Church office and rushes home. Standing on the steps to their bedroom, Catherine is there in her bathrobe. They embrace, and life goes forward.

“A Man Called Peter” is a movie profoundly infused with truth. It will freshen your outlook on life and will entertain you at the same time.

Ron Walker can be reached at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment