Tributes pour in for Mother Angelica: ‘most effective Catholic evangelizer of the last fifty years’
IRONDALE, Alabama, March 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – News of Easter Sunday’s passing of Mother Angelica, founder of America’s extraordinary global Catholic media apostolate EWTN, drew an immediate outpouring of tributes, including even a short one from Pope Emeritus Benedict himself.
Eternal Word Television Network founder Mother Angelica died Sunday after a long period of ill health at age 92, prompting numerous heartfelt remembrances and expressions of gratitude for the life of the nun known for blazing trails in Catholic broadcasting and for fervent defense of the Catholic faith.
“It’s a gift,” Pope Benedict said through his personal secretary regarding Mother Angelica’s entrance into eternal life on the holiest of Christian days.
Following is a roundup of some of the respects being paid to Mother Angelica.
Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, and founder of Word on Fire:
Mother Angelica, one of the most significant figures in the post-conciliar Catholic Church in America, has died after a fourteen-year struggle with the after effects of a stroke. I can attest that, in “fashionable” Catholic circles during the eighties and nineties of the last century, it was almost de rigueur to make fun of Mother Angelica. She was a crude popularizer, an opponent of Vatican II, an arch-conservative, a culture-warrior, etc., etc. And yet while her critics have largely faded away, her impact and influence are uncontestable. Against all odds and expectations, she created an evangelical vehicle without equal in the history of the Catholic Church. Starting from, quite literally, a garage in Alabama, EWTN now reaches 230 million homes in over 140 countries around the world. With the possible exception of John Paul II himself, she was the most watched and most effective Catholic evangelizer of the last fifty years.
Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, EWTN’s local ordinary:
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.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., 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.
Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Communications:
One cannot help but admire Mother Angelica for her tenacity and her single-mindedness in creating EWTN. To think that this woman religious founded a small broadcast station in a garage of her monastery and was able to grow it into the broadcast and digital giant that EWTN is today is amazing. She certainly was a person of strong personality and opinions and even stronger faith. May the angels lead her into paradise and may the martyrs welcome her into eternal life.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops' conference:
Mother Angelica reflected the Gospel commission to go forth and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19), and like the best evangelists, she used the communications tools of her time to make this happen. She displayed a unique capacity for mission and showed the world once again the vital contribution of women religious.
In addition to founding the Eternal World Television Network, Mother Angelica was the foundress of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and the Knights of the Holy Eucharist. Her work, begun in the cloister, reached across the globe. She was a convincing sign as to how even the humblest of beginnings can yield abundant fruit.
I join those who lived and worked with her, as well as her many viewers, in thanking God for this extraordinary woman, devout believer and media pioneer.
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.
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.
Mother Mary Assumpta Long, OP, Prioress General, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist:
I had the privilege of knowing Mother Angelica over many years and the unique experience of being with her on her live TV programs. She was tremendously generous in offering free time on EWTN to those who wanted to promote the truths of the Catholic Church she so loved.
It was fun how quickly Mother Angelica and I hit it off in the few interviews I had with her. During one interview, we were making jokes to the point that I teased her about there possibly being something stronger in her coffee cup than coffee. Luckily she seemed to enjoy that …
She had no time or inclination to put on airs, or to have any kind of false or formulaic piety. She met life head-on and resolutely moved forward in a complete no-nonsense fashion. Undoubtedly, others will speak of her ability to get an international Catholic TV station going when powerful bishops and their organizations could not do so. She was a simple nun, with a profound faith, and one courageously dependent upon God’s grace to supply what was needed. Her life and deeds were miraculous. I have great confidence that some day she will be declared to be a saint.
Alice von Hildebrand, philosopher:
When one meets a person whose one concern is to serve God and his Church, fearing neither difficulty nor suffering, persecution nor ridicule, it marks one for life. I dedicated my recent book, Memoirs of a Happy Failure, to her. She started from nothing. Everything was against her. But she trusted that with his help, she could spread the Gospel to the world through EWTN. It edges on the miraculous.
Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:
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.
Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ, EWTN television host:
One of the most important things about her is that she was not an actress. When you saw her at the show, there was no difference from what she was like off the air. She and I played off one another very well because I could tease her where others couldn’t. I remember there was another priest who would come on and started teasing her, and she said to him — on live TV — “Who do you think you are, Father Mitch Pacwa? Settle down.”
Her love of Christ was the most important component of her life. Nothing else mattered to her, and she didn’t worry about a thing except being faithful to Christ. It was the number one issue for her, hands down. She didn’t care who you were or what you said — if it contradicted the faith, she’d shut you down, even if you were ordained clergy …
She was someone with a high school education and came from a contemplative background, which points out that for her prayer was listening to Jesus. She had something to say because she listened to him.
She was still able to speak a little bit until about 2002 or 2003, and she said, “This is my purgatory.” The sisters had told me that for recreation she liked to watch DVDs of I Love Lucy. So I brought her some DVDs of The Jack Benny Show. They had to cut it off because she was laughing so hard she was having trouble breathing.
Father Francis Hoffman (“Fr. Rocky”), Executive Director of Relevant Radio:
I remember the first time I saw Mother Angelica on TV. It was late night on the Joan Rivers Show in the ’80s. I thought she would be eaten alive, but within minutes she had Joan and the entire audience eating right out of her hand. Mother Angelica’s profound charity and faith, common sense and wit, her piety of a child balanced by her doctrine of a theologian — all of that — brought St. John Paul II’s New Evangelization to the airwaves at a moment when the Church in America needed a “W” in the witness column. Like Joan of Arc and Catherine of Siena, Mother Angelica once again showed that women are not second rate in the Church. May she rest in peace!
Teresa Tomeo, Catholic journalist and EWTN host:
When we talk about women who blazed a trail in the competitive and demanding field of broadcast communications, Mother Angelica should be remembered at the very top of that list.
Not only did this dynamic faith-filled woman, begin a major Catholic media network in the middle of the Bible Belt, but she did it on a wing and a prayer. Despite countless obstacles including challenges with funding, opposition from many in the Church, and her own health issues, she believed she had a mission and she pressed on. As a result, her love for God and His children led to the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) becoming the largest religious media organization in the world. It’s a network that has impacted the lives and souls of millions of people, including my own.
The late Jessica Savitch, who worked for years as an anchorwoman and reporter for NBC, was once told by a college professor “there’s no room for broads in broadcasting.” Before Savitch lost her life in a tragic car accident, she fought her way to the top in the rough and tumble TV news world, making that professor eat his words by achieving a great deal of on-air success. But not even Savitch, or her colleagues in broadcast journalism, colleagues also struggling to make names for themselves, would ever achieve what one feisty nun accomplished. At a time in the late 70’s and early 80’s when women were still trying to find their place in prominent positions on and off the air, at local affiliate and major broadcast networks, Mother Angelica was breaking through all kinds of barriers still in place in many areas. Not only did she begin a major network and run it successfully behind the scenes, but she was a major fixture on the air as well, with her popular radio and TV shows, especially Mother Angelica Live.
Mother Angelica proved there was a lot of room for broads in all area of broadcasting especially when God wants them there. Not bad for a little Italian American girl from Canton, Ohio. I for one, but I am hardly alone in this camp, will be forever grateful for her sacrifices and her determination. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life:
Our whole Priests for Life family and I are saddened to hear of the passing of Mother Angelica. We have all lost a friend, a mentor, a spiritual mother, a voice of conscience, and a source of laughter and encouragement. I was able to thank her again personally for all she has done when I said Mass in her room just two weeks ago on March 13th and blessed her with a first class relic of Pope Saint John Paul II.
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.
Her voice and her message will be with us for a long time. Thanks to the continued growth of the media apostolate she founded -- an apostolate in which we eagerly participate -- people will be able to learn and laugh with Mother Angelica for many years to come. We should all recommit ourselves today to echoing her messages.
Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International:
With the passing of Mother Angelica, we have lost a fearless defender of the Gospel of Life. She mentored and inspired countless pro-lifers throughout the years with her candor, laughter, courage, and personal witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. When she said, “We are going to talk about Jesus”, it was evident that she spoke from her heart and personal encounter. Her love of the Lord was contagious.
I first met Mother Angelica in 1990 when I attended her live show in Irondale, Alabama. Mother spoke about the importance of public witness and authentically living the faith, as it is the seed of transformation ofculture. She talked about being a disciple of Jesus and joyfully living one’s vocation. Following the show, I met Mother and we briefly spoke about my seminary formation and journey toward the priesthood. This chance with Mother would be the first among many opportunities, moments I have cherished.
She left an indelible mark upon all who knew her, as she did upon me. In my last visit with Mother in January of this year, I thanked her for her encouragement, support, and prayers. I spoke about how her life impacted me and shared a few personal stories of our visits. Before giving Mother a blessing, I again expressed my heartfelt gratitude to her for her personal example and friendship.
Like many, I am grateful to Mother Angelica for her loving and courageous witness, and to Almighty God for her life and legacy. Because of her witness and trust in the Lord, the transforming power of the Gospel of Life is being proclaimed around the world. Because of EWTN’s television and radio programs, millions of people around the world are hearing the Gospel, learning about Jesus, His teachings, and His Church. Mother’s fidelity, commitment, and fearless adherence to the Truth made this possible and continues to make a difference.
One thing about Mother Angelica I want others to remember is her profound love for priests, in spite of her challenges and at times chastisements. She always offered her love, support, encouragement, and personal prayers. She saw in the priest the presence of Jesus and her challenges simply reminded priests of the beauty and obligation of their vocation. I remember witnessing one priest telling Mother how difficult it was to preach the Gospel. He shared his personal struggles and the negative responses he was receiving from his parishioners because he was trying to guide them in the teachings of Jesus and His Church. Mother’s response was both affirming and direct. “We need you, Father, to be courageous. The Church needs needs you. The people, though they do not know it, need you. Jesus has called you by name to be priest and shepherd of His people. Go home and keep preaching and teaching. My sisters and I will pray for you.”
HLI and our partners around the world are also deeply grateful to our friends at EWTN, who have joined HLI in proclaiming the Gospel of Life. Mother Angelica and her staff at EWTN have provided HLI and other pro-life and pro-family apostolates with the ability to share their work with the global community. Mother had such a heart for the pro-life movement and for those whose lives we are trying to save.
Our dear Mother Angelica was a faithful servant of the Master and fought the good fight. May the Lord console her sisters, colleagues, and friends in their mourning, and may Mother rest in the peace of the Risen Lord.
Steven Mosher, president of Population Research Institute:
Few Catholics have had a greater impact on the world than Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation Rizzo. As the Foundress of the Eternal Word Television Network, she created a satellite network that reaches all corners of the globe with around-the-clock Catholic programming. This fantastic vehicle of evangelization would not exist were it not for Mother's vision, her faith, and her determination.
Our whole PRI family and I are saddened by her passing. As a frequent guest on EWTN show over the years, I was able to visit with her from time to time. Indeed, it was her inspiration that led to our "Building a Culture of Life" series that was broadcast on EWTN a few years ago. She remained absolutely faithful to her call from God to share the Gospel with the whole world, even in the face of the many trials that she faced, even from some within the Church.
We thank God for the life and example of Mother Angelica. And we pray for the repose of Mother's soul, for the consolation of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration, and for the continuation of the media apostolate that she founded.
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.
Kristina Arriaga, executive director of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, law firm representing EWTN against the federal government in its HHS contraceptive Mandate:
Mother Angelica was a shining example of courage and faith. We mourn her loss, but her legacy lives on in EWTN and in the lives of all those she touched.
EWTN is continuing the good work that Mother Angelica started. We are honored to join with our friends at EWTN in continuing the fight for religious freedom.
Updated March 30, 2016 with comment from HLI's Fr. Boquet.