EWTN’s beloved foundress, Mother Angelica, passes away at 92

Published: Mar. 27, 2016 at 11:32 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2016 at 11:32 PM CDT
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IRONDALE, AL (WBRC) - Mother Angelica, the foundress of the Eternal Word Television Network, passed away on Easter Sunday around 5 p.m.

She lived 92 years. EWTN confirmed her death on its Facebook page. They are asking for prayers and plan to remember her joyful words, extraordinary works, and incredible life throughout this week.

Mother Angelica was born in Canton, OH in 1923 as Rita Antoinette Rizzo. At just 21 years of age, she entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland on Aug. 15, 1944.

She received her religious name – Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, a year later. The Cleveland Monastery established a new foundation in Canton soon after and Sr. Angelica was chosen to be a member of the community.

She made her first profession of vows on Jan. 2, 1947 and in Jan. 1953, Sister Angelica took her solemn vows as a Poor Clare nun.

While waiting for a delicate spinal surgery in 1956, Sister Angelica made a promise that, if God would permit her to walk again, she would build a monastery in the South. Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale was dedicated by Archbishop Thomas J. Toolen of Mobile on May 20, 1962.

Mother Angelica's vision took form in Irondale. Her distinctive approach to teaching the Catholic Faith led to parish talks, the publication of pamphlets and books, then radio and television opportunities.

The Nuns had converted the garage of their monastery into a television studio by 1980. 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.

Several Catholic leaders issued statements in reaction to her passing.

Mother Dolores Marie, Superior of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery said the following:

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 issued the following statement:

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 said the following:

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, said: :

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 issued this statement:

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.

Below is the schedule of events surrounding Mother Angelica's funeral:

Monday, March 28

  • 7 a.m. Memorial Mass from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Ala.
  • 2 p.m. Divine Mercy Chaplet and Litany of the Sacred Heart.
  • 7-8:30 p.m. Special Live Show.
  • 8:30-9:30 p.m. Rosary.

Tuesday, March 29

  • 6 a.m. Divine Office in memoriam.
  • 7 a.m. Mass from Irondale.
  • 10 a.m. Holy Hour in memoriam.
  • 2:30 p.m. Coverage begins with EWTN host Raymond Arroyo.
  • 3-4 p.m. Mother Angelica’s body will be received in the Piazza for a procession to the upper church, followed by a Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the shrine.
  • 7-8:30 p.m. Special Live Show.
  • 8:30-9:30 p.m. Rosary.

Wednesday, March 30

  • 6 a.m. Divine Office in memoriam.
  • 7 a.m. Mass from Irondale.
  • 9:30 a.m. Coverage begins with EWTN host Raymond Arroyo.
  • 10-11 a.m. Public Visitation and Rosary.
  • 2 p.m. Stations of the Cross.
  • 5 p.m. Vespers and the Divine Mercy Chaplet with the Nuns of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.
  • 7 p.m. Rosary.
  • 8-9:30 p.m. Special Live Shows.

Thursday, March 31

  • 6 a.m. Divine Office in memoriam.
  • 7 a.m. Mass from Irondale.
  • 9:30 a.m. Coverage begins with EWTN host Raymond Arroyo.
  • 10-11 a.m. Public Visitation and Rosary.
  • 2 p.m. Holy Hour in memoriam.
  • 5 p.m. Solemn Vespers.
  • 6-7 p.m. Remembering Mother with EWTN host Raymond Arroyo.
  • 7 -8:30 p.m. Vigil Service and Rosary.

Friday, April 1

  • 11:00 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial, Procession and Rite of Committal.

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