The National Catholic Review
Mar 27 2016 - 8:12pm | From CNS, Staff and other sources

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, P.C.P.A., known to millions around the world as Foundress of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, died peacefully at 5 p.m. CDT, Easter Sunday, March 27, surrounded by the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Ala.

“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.”

Reacting to the news, the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia, said: “Mother Angelica succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieveShe 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.”

“In passing to eternal life, Mother Angelica leaves behind a legacy of holiness and commitment to the New Evangelization that should inspire us all," said Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus. "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.”

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 Sister 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 on 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.

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Bruce Snowden | 3/28/2016 - 6:47pm

Like St. Jerome who had a lifelong anger management problem, in anger once wrote to an adversary (Augustine?) with whom he had locked horns, "Satan was sniffing his underwear!," Mother Angelica was also flawed, but flawed in pursuit of virtue, of goodness, as she understood goodness to be, not vice, proud and arrogant, but also humble enough to acknowledge her "oversteps." Like many canonized saints and I believe one day she'll join that group, she wasn't always right and sometimes terribly wrong, showing that a saint is a sinner who never stops trying! And she never stopped trying.

One irritant that bothered me was her decision not to fully implement the spirit and wisdom of Vatican II, particularly in its liturgical reform. I uses to call Mass in her domain the "Angelican Rite" where she pitted herself against the Pope whose Masses always reflected Vat II's liturgical reform. And more. But her goodness, her virtues far outweighed her flaws. She was a good woman and I believe a saint. She is resting in peace and I ask her prayers for my family, my friends and for me.

Sandi Sinor | 3/28/2016 - 4:03pm

May she rest in peace.

But, I agree with those who have already remarked that a more balanced assessment of her impact on the church should be given at some time. For many Catholics, she was a very divisive influence on the church, especially in America. She may have done lasting harm - only time will tell. Perhaps the personality cult she nurtured will now pass away, as it should.

Vince Killoran | 3/28/2016 - 2:51pm

I do pray for her soul. May she rest in peace.

Since she was a very public person--a "culture wars warrior" of the 1980s and 90s-- Mother Angelica must not now be excused from assessment. She subscribed to a certain practice of the Faith, one that was narrow and not pastoral. She was "ungenerous" many times with those with whom she disagreed. Lest I be accused of not knowing her work, I should add that I watched her many, many times on EWTN.She offered a bleak, pinched version Christianity. Not much in the way of "Sermon on the Mount" content.

William deHaas | 3/28/2016 - 12:58pm

It would be helpful to have a more balanced analysis of her contributions.

This says it all:

a) 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.

Above this it praises her colloquial style and appealing to a certain type of person. Suggest that her lack of education translated to conveying a watered down, uneducated view of the church and its practices that were skewed to piety, cultic behaviors, almost a white race cultural mystery religion. She, like JPII, was focused on their own personalities; were authoritarian; and played to the simple and uneducated (not unlike Benny's famous quote that we needed to protect those same folk)

b) Like John Henry Neuhaus, she created more divisions than unity. She gloried in taking on certain bishops that she (with her lack of education and experience) labelled *progressive*. She had a tendency to focus on sin and she had the answers. She built an *alternative church* - SAD.

c) how about referencing how she took on Cardinal Mahoney and his archdiocesan paper on the eucharist and how she and EWTN only avoided sanction (or closing by Rome) by legally moving EWTN to private hands. Yep, that was a sign of faith, alright. Out right arrogance is more like it.

d) Visit the monastery and see her *nuns* - talk about keeping young women *childlike* - this is not a journey of faith - it is a cult and Mother has replaced Jesus.

e) How about doing a series on the actual financial shenanigans of EWTN - it is not a *pretty picture*. Suggests buying influence; peddling miracles/pieties/etc. (one would think it was 1500 all over again in northern Europe and the selling of indulgences)

f) How about listing all of the prominent speakers and priests who have left EWTN in scandal; etc.

Let's just acknowledge that she has finally died and leave it at that. She leaves no great legacy beyond division and misleading thousands.

William Rydberg | 3/28/2016 - 2:07pm

DeHaas- What about the comments policy? Her body is still warm... One thing a Catholic person learns is that a Friend of God stands on their own before God, the greatest Legacy is that in some small way, one points to God. Try to look in the direction of God, not at the tip of the finger pointing because given sufficient age, fingers are often old diseased and bent. Still, looking beyond that finger-tip requires Christ's grace... For "Life" is messy son.

Don't know if you have any progeny. Pray that at the Judgement you are not held personally responsible for every ill-conceived antic of each of your offspring... Many of the persons you mention above are spiritual daughters and sons of Rita. Just sayin...

Just my opinion,

Christ is Risen, Blessed be the Holy Trinity, Rita, pray to your Friend for us all...

in Christ,

William deHaas | 3/28/2016 - 4:26pm

What about the comments policy??? I made no personal attacks - asked for a balanced analysis - this piece was not balanced. I posted some specfiic areas to comment on - these may or may not be directly connected to *Mother*. You appear defensive? Wonder why? And please save me your lectures about my progeny - my children are very different from the likes of who Mother chose to be on EWTN or invested her blessings upon....really!!!. She is both accountable and responsible for those choices. You appear confused.

Guillermo Reyes | 3/30/2016 - 2:25pm

deHaas, your comments are hysterical. I havent laughed so hard after reading comments on these pages.

She was many things, and I worked with her in Birmingham in the mid 1980s when she and her nuns wore the cute brown skirts and cheap tan colored veils. One thing that she was able to accomplish was this: she did exactly what no Bishop, no Comference of Bishops, no left wean leaning periodical could do (i.e. NCR, Commonweal, I inject your names here to humiliate you), and countless liberal agitprops who could only aspire to her power. LIBERALS HATED HER out of envy.

She said many things that made me whince. Bishop Joseph Vath, Ordinary at the time in Bham, tried to shut her down. When he died in office his successor knew better than cross her. Still, M. Angelica was human, often popping off at the mouth. Frankly, we all do, including, nay especially, Thomas Reese at NCR. Now he is a travesty.

Going back to M. Angelica, she had the Hand of the Lord on her when she beatched slapped Mahoney. He needed it because no other Bishop would. Of course no one respects Mahoney today.

M. Angelica was uneducated. She had no theological training. She was explosive, gregarious, ultra traditional, at times said bewildering things but in the end, what we could in this country if we had an army of M. Angelica's instead of the lackluster, pathetic, embarassing clericslists who occupy many Chanceries in the USA. Perhaps I understate

Commonweal and NCR will never have the power, influence and ear of the Vatican that EWTN had until lovable, irritable, spunky M. Angelica

Pray for us M. Angelica. We glad you are with our Lord in Heaven.
Give our regards to Cardinal Bernadin!

oremus

Andrew Di Liddo | 3/28/2016 - 12:57pm

Mother Angelica: this prayer from your hometown of Canton Ohio,

dear Jesus, please grant unto Rita Mother Angelica eternal rest at your side...and say to her "well done my faithful servant"...in Jesus' name I pray. Amen

Carlos Orozco | 3/27/2016 - 11:56pm

Though not a surprise, the news is no less heartbreaking. May she see the Risen Lord.

William Rydberg | 3/28/2016 - 3:32pm

Santo subito! A hard-working Catholic woman. May her soul and all of the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. God bless you Rita! You were a friend of God on Earth, enjoy the Holy Trinity in Heaven!

And if America Magazine is in earnest about launching a global media Strategy, I respectfully submit that American Mother Angelica of Irondale of blessed memory be considered as a friend and Intercessor...

God willing, I hope to join you in Heaven one blessed day...

Godspeed.

Happy Easter!

Thank you Jesus!