Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, dies on Easter Sunday
March 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - It was a fitting conclusion to a life poured out without measure to spreading the life-giving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and marked in its final years by an extended Good Friday of suffering. Mother Angelica, known to tens of millions of people around the world as the founder of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), passed away this Easter Sunday at the age of 92.
Mother Angelica’s death follows a 15-year period of silence from the famed TV nun, following a stroke that she suffered on Christmas eve of 2001. That stroke left Mother unable to speak, silencing a voice that had touched countless millions of people through her famed humor, sharp wit, and fearless committment to teaching the truths of the Catholic faith without compromise.
Even afterwards, however, Mother Angelica's beloved presence continued to grace the airwaves of the global TV network she had created in the form of frequent reruns of old episodes of “Mother Angelica Live,” or recordings of her and her fellow nuns praying the Rosary.
She spent the remainder of her life in quiet prayer until her death.
“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.”
Mother Angelica launched EWTN in 1981 with just $200 in the bank. In the past 34 years the TV network has grown far beyond anyone's wildest expectations. It now boasts 11 separate television channels in multiple languages, reaching more than 264 million homes in 145 countries and territories.
EWTN has always been marked by its dedication to promoting and defending the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church, and Mother Angelica herself was renowned for her unwillingness ever to water down or compromise one iota on the truths of the faith.
Every year EWTN broadcasts the entire March for Life in Washington D.C. The TV network is an ever-reliable ally of the pro-life and pro-family movements in the United States, Canada, and around the world.
Fr. Frank Pavone, the founder of Priests for Life, has promoted the pro-life message on EWTN since 1995, when Mother Angelica asked him to film the first series of Defending Life - the longest running, farthest reaching television program about abortion ever created.
In a statement following her death, Fr. Pavone, who was was able to visit with and say Mass for Mother Angelica just two weeks ago, mourned her loss.
"We have all lost a friend, a mentor, a spiritual mother, a voice of conscience, and a source of laughter and encouragement," he said. "Yet as strong as the feeling of sadness is, even stronger is our gratitude to Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, for giving Mother Angelica the call to do what she did, and to remain faithful to that call even when many entrusted with responsibility in the Church failed to understand it."
Pope Benedict XVI recognized Mother Angelica’s achievements in 2009 when he awarded her the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award in recognition of her faithful service to the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis did not forget Mother Angelica either, sending his personal blessing to her during the flight to Cube this past February.
In a statement following Mother Angelica's death, Archbishop Charles Chaput, who served on the EWTN board for years, called the EWTN founder "one of the great American Catholics of the past half-century, a woman of extraordinary faith, intelligence, energy and determination."
"In founding and growing EWTN into a major media resource for the global Church, she achieved things almost everyone thought impossible," said Chaput. "She will be sorely missed, but she has left us an on-going gift in the men and women who continue the great service of the EWTN apostolate."
Mother Angelica's funeral mass 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.
Due to limited seating at the mass, attendance will be by invitation only. The funeral will be broadcast on EWTN
RELATED: The Legacy of Mother Angelica
EWTN released a brief biography of Mother Angelica Following her death:
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.