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Farewell to Mother Angelica

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A miracle
of evangelization: only in this way could one define the legacy left by Mother
Angelica, founder of the international Catholic network EWTN. A network whose
success is proven by the numbers: launched in a garage in 1981 without caring
about the cost, today the network broadcasts 24 hours a day, reaches over 264
million homes in 144 different nations, and publishes in or contributes to
major magazines and agencies of religious information in the United States and
around the world, in multiple languages.

Angelica returned to the Father’s house at 5p.m. March 27, the Solemnity of
Easter. She was 92. In the morning she participated in Mass inside her room,
from the bed to which she has been confined since 2001, when a stroke
permanently damaged her mobility.

Angelica’s whole life has been marked by dates that follow the liturgical
calendar, as if to signify her unconditional “yes to God and her unshakeable
trust in Providence. The stroke came on Christmas Eve 2001. She entered the
Order of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration August 15, 1944, a day that was
to become the Solemnity of the Assumption. And it was August 15, 1981, that
Eternal Word Television first aired. It was the television network God had
asked Mother Angelica to found.

April 20, 1923, with the name Rita Rizzo, Mother Angelica experienced poverty and
a life of hardship after her parents divorced when she was just six years old.
But she didn’t just live with solitude, suffering and distress. She was also
tried by physical suffering. When she was a teenager, she had consistent
stomach pain. She was cured when Rhonda Wise, a woman from Canton (the town in
Ohio where she lived) to whom miraculous cures were attributed to, told her to
recite a novena to St. Therese of Lisieux. In 1944, at 21, she entered the
Order of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland and took the name
Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. Two years later, she was invited
again to the city of her birth, Canton, to found a new monastery. She lived
there for several years, until the 50s. While cleaning the floors with an
electric scrubbing machine, she lost her balance on the slippery floor, covered
in soap, and slammed her back against the wall. The injury lasted for two
years, and even worse, she needed a surgical operation. It was risky, and she
had a 50 percent chance of being paralyzed. So she promised God that if the
operation was successful, she would build a monastery in the South.

operation succeeded, and Mother kept her promise.

The okay
from Rome to found the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels in Irondale, Alabama
came February 3, 1961. A charismatic speaker, Sr. Mary Angelica was asked if
her speeches could be recorded and distributed. She did it for the first time
in 1969. In 1971, she recorded her first radio program, which was a 10 minute
transmission for WBRC. Seven years later, Mother began to record her first
television programs, which were half-hour transmissions titled “Our Hermitage.
It was the spark that inspired the idea of a media apostolate faithful to
Catholicism. The spark then flared up when she realized that the owner of the
studio where she recorded her transmission wanted to broadcast a program she
considered to be blasphemous. Mother said that she would go elsewhere to
record. Upon receiving threats that she would be out of television forever, she
confidently responded: “I will found my own.

And so it
happened. The Eternal Word Television Network was born August 15, 1981, and
from there began the work of evangelization through media.

It is a
company willed by Providence, just as it was Providence which characterized the
foundations of Mother Angelica: the Congregation of the Missionary Franciscans
of the Eternal Word, a community of men which consists of 15 friars who are
very active in evangelization within EWTN; but also the monastery itself in
Irondale, because Mother Angelica’s request to found a new monastery came
simultaneously with that of another sister, and the Mother Superior decided to
that she would give permission to the first of the two sisters that received a
response from the local bishop.

observers have said that the network founded by Mother Angelica (EWTN) has
helped to protect the Church in the United States. If this is true, it is true
because Mother Angelica built the network in His own image and likeness: with
an unwavering faith in God, the knowledge of the goodness of the teachings of
the Church and the desire to share them with people, truly reaching everyone.
And if the network has grown so much in recent years, it is also due to the
fact that Mother Angelica – who left leadership in 2000 – has ceaselessly
watched over it with her prayers, despite being bedridden for almost 15 years.

ascended to the Father’s house on Easter day, as often happens with the Saints,
after receiving countless awards, even from the Pope. In October 2009, Benedict
XVI gave her the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award, the highest recognition
that a Pope can give to a layperson or religious to honor their work. Upon
hearing the news of Mother Angelica’s passing, Benedict XVI commented that
“it’s a gift for her to have gone to heaven on Easter Sunday. And on February
12, 2016, while on his way to Cuba, Pope Francis prayed for her.

model of evangelization through media is an example for all to follow.

By Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer, EWTN Global Catholic Network


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