Today 92 years ago on April 20th a woman would be born who would do much good for the Catholic Church in regards to evangelization via the media.
Born Rita Antoinette Rizzo in 1923, she would join the Franciscan order as a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration in 1944 and would take the name Mary Angelica of the Annunciation.
In the 60’s, she would move to Irondale, Alabama and found a community of sisters there. Mother Angelica would tape programs for television networks in the 1970s. However, when one of the networks refused to air a controversial program, Mother decided to stop producing her a program and founded her own network.
On August 15, 1981 EWTN or the Eternal Word Television Network was founded in a garage with the budget of only $200. Many thought that this network would not last, but it did and grew in such a way that defies the normal growth of a television network. By the late 80’s, the network was broadcasting for 24 hours. In the 90’s, the network would go global and would have WEWN, its short-wave radio version.
As the internet became more accessible to the general public, EWTN went online with http://www.ewtn.com. It began to broadcast on there as well and provided more resources for those interested in the Catholic faith. Many people have joined or returned to the Catholic Church because of EWTN. EWTN provided a channel where people can learn on the Catholic faith, call in to have questions answered and have a sense of connection with the global Church since secular media hardly covers Papal events.
EWTN and Mother Angelica did face some controversies due to fallen human nature in the Church. Some bishops, in particular, Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles took to heart Mother Angelica’s blunt attitude. They saw her as trying to overthrow the bishops. Cardinal Mahony tried to get Mother Angelica off the air but failed to do so. Mother Angelica would then hand over authority and possession of the network to lay people after an attempt was made to take over the network because as a religious, Angelica falls under the authority of the Church.
Some have accused EWTN of being pre-Vatican II orientated and teaching errors; however, Pope Benedict XVI awarded the network and Mother Angelica the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award. Others claim Mother is rude, arrogant, uncharitable and condescending. Mother Angelica has battled health issues since her days as a novice. She had a back brace for a while until she was cured when a visionary visited EWTN. Mother would then suffer a stroke which would take away her voice. She eventually retired from the network and is recovering the best she can after suffering a stroke and having brain surgery.
I want to wish Mother Angelica a happy 92nd birthday. She is a blessing to the Catholic Church. In my opinion, if more cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, and laity were more like her, we would not have the problems we have today in regards to the lack of faith and low Mass attendance. Abortion, same-sex marriage, radical feminism, relativism, gender theory, atheism, secularism etc would not be so popular today. I remember watching one of her episodes where she described what is going on today. This episode originally aired when I was just a kid. In this episode, she spoke of how people are resorting to “misguided compassion.” They excuse the sins of others out of a false sense of compassion. How true was Mother Angelica! Today so many support same-sex marriage out of this misguided compassion. They are afraid to admonish the sinner and become an accomplice to another’rs sin. Mother is a true evangelical in the sense of evangelizing the world, not the denomination. The fruit of many conversions and vocations is a testament to this religious sister’s faith, prayers, and hard work.