Mother Angelica Dies at 92
Founded the EWTN Global Catholic Network
“This is a sorrow-filled day for the entire EWTN Family,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. “Mother has always, and will always, personify EWTN, the Network which she founded. In the face of sickness and long-suffering trials, Mother’s example of joy and prayerful perseverance exemplified the Franciscan spirit she held so dear. We thank God for Mother Angelica and for the gift of her extraordinary life.”
Born Rita Antoinette Rizzo in Canton, Ohio in 1923, she entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland on Aug. 15, 1944 at the age of 21. A year later, she received her religious name – Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. Soon after, the Cleveland Monastery established a new foundation in Canton, and Sr. Angelica was chosen to be a member of the community there. On Jan. 2, 1947 she made her first profession of vows and in January 1953, Sister Angelica took her solemn vows as a Poor Clare nun.
In 1956, while awaiting a delicate spinal surgery, Sister Angelica made a promise that, if God would permit her to walk again, she would build a monastery in the South. On May 20, 1962, Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Ala. was dedicated by Archbishop Thomas J. Toolen of Mobile.
In Irondale, Mother Angelica’s vision took form and her distinctive approach to teaching the Catholic Faith led to parish talks, the publication of pamphlets and books, then radio and television opportunities. By 1980, the Nuns had converted the garage of their monastery into a television studio.
Despite having only a high school education, no television experience and only $200 in the bank, Mother Angelica officially launched the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) on Aug. 15, 1981 and served as the Network’s first Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. She famously refused to air paid advertisements to fund her Network, relying solely on viewer donations, despite coming close to bankruptcy on several occasions.
More than 34 years later, EWTN is the largest Catholic media network in the world, transmitting 11 separate television channels in multiple languages, reaching more than 264 million homes in 145 countries and territories. The Network now also includes multiple radio platforms, online and digital media outlets, global news services and a publishing group.
Known for her humor and ability to colloquially communicate the Catholic Faith to both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, her popular EWTN television show, “Mother Angelica Live” was launched in 1983. Episodes of the program continue to air regularly and have been translated into multiple languages including Spanish, German, and Ukrainian.
In addition to the Eternal Word Television Network and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Mother Angelica also founded the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, a religious community of men based in Irondale.
In 1995, Mother Angelica was inspired by God to begin construction of a new monastery and church on a nearly 400 acre site in rural Hanceville, Ala. By 1999, the nuns relocated from Irondale to the new site in Hanceville. Our Lady of the Angels Monastery and the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament were formally dedicated in December 1999. The Shrine remains one of the most visited tourist sites in the State of Alabama.
Before stepping down as EWTN’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2000, Time magazine described Mother Angelica as, "arguably the most influential Roman Catholic woman in America.”
Throughout her life, she struggled with painful illnesses and physical challenges. On Christmas Eve of 2001, Mother Angelica suffered a debilitating stroke and cerebral hemorrhage which took away her capacity to speak.
In 2009, she was awarded the prestigious Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal by Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of her faithful and extraordinary service to the Roman Catholic Church. This past February, while on board the plane taking him to Cuba, Pope Francis sent a special blessing to Mother Angelica, and asked her for her prayers.
Mother Angelica’s final years were prayerful and quiet, spent with her nuns at the Monastery she built in Hanceville.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. CDT, Friday, April 1 at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville. Interment will immediately follow in the Shrine’s Crypt Church.
Because of limited seating capacity, admission to the Shrine for the funeral Mass will be by invitation only. The public may participate directly outside, in the Shrine’s piazza. Services will be broadcast by EWTN. Further information is available at www.ewtn.com.
Catholic Leaders React to the Passing of Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A.
Mother Dolores Marie, Superior of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery:
“Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, P.C.P.A. passed peacefully from this life at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery on 5 p.m. CDT, Easter Sunday, March 27, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, surrounded by the prayers and love of her spiritual daughters, sons and dear friends. Known as “Mother to Millions” to her EWTN Family, she untiringly exhorted all to pursue holiness by living with God in the present moment. We are grateful for your prayers for this courageous daughter of the Church and your support of EWTN, the media network that she founded for the salvation of souls. May our beloved Mother Angelica, Foundress of EWTN, enter through the Mercy of God into the joy of Heaven.”
EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw:
“This is a sorrow-filled day for the entire EWTN Family. Mother has always, and will always, personify EWTN, the Network which she founded. In the face of sickness and long-suffering trials, Mother’s example of joy and prayerful perseverance exemplified the Franciscan spirit she held so dear. We thank God for Mother Angelica and for the gift of her extraordinary life. Her accomplishments and legacies in evangelization throughout the world are nothing short of miraculous and can only be attributed to Divine Providence and her unwavering faithfulness to Our Lord. The important thing, as Mother Angelica’s life and the lives so many of the saints have shown us, is to be faithful and to persevere. Mother Angelica’s life has been a life of faith; her prayer life and obedience to God are worthy of our imitation. Everything she did was an act of faith.”
The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia:
“Mother Angelica succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieve. She founded and grew a network that appealed to everyday Catholics, understood their needs and fed their spirits. Mother Angelica inspired other gifted people to join her in the work without compromising her own leadership and vision. I admired her very much, not just as a talented leader and communicator, but as a friend and great woman religious of generosity, intellect and Catholic faith.”
The Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama:
“Mother Angelica brought the truth and the love and the life of the Gospel of Jesus to so many people, not only to our Catholic household of faith, but to many thousands of people who are not Catholic, in that beautiful way she had of touching lives, bringing so many people into the Catholic Faith.”
Father Anthony Mary Stelten, M.F.V.A., Community Servant, Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word:
“The Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word are deeply saddened by the death of our Foundress, Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A. Mother was an inspiration for all of us in her contemplative life of adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament and in the deep, personal relationship that she had with the Lord. Her friendly manner, pleasant wit, vision and enthusiastic zeal for evangelization so animated her mission at EWTN and inspired all who had the privilege of getting to know her in person or through the Network. In founding our Community, Mother Angelica imbued our manner of life with her own profound love for the Real Presence, devotion to Our Lady and the spirituality of St. Francis. She shared with us her special charism of evangelization through the modern means of social communication, most especially through service to the apostolate of EWTN. The friars will always treasure the unique relationship we had with Mother Angelica and the way of life that she inspired for us.”
Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus:
“In passing to eternal life, Mother Angelica leaves behind a legacy of holiness and commitment to the New Evangelization that should inspire us all. I was honored to know and be able to assist Mother Angelica during the early days of EWTN. Over the years, that relationship grew, and today the Knights of Columbus and EWTN partner regularly on important projects. Mother Angelica was fearless, because she had God on her side. She saw what He needed her to do and she did it! She transformed the world of Catholic broadcasting, and brought the Gospel to far corners of our world. That witness of faith was unmistakable to anyone who met and worked with her, and generations of Catholics have, and will continue to be formed by her vision, and her "yes" to God's will.”