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Mother Angelica, 92, Founder of EWTN, Dies on Easter Sunday



John Burger - published on 03/27/16

Read about her fascinating life, and the schedule of events surrounding her wake and funeral

Mother Angelica, the feisty and indomitable nun who founded a Catholic media empire in the Deep South when Catholics were a small minority there, died today, Easter Sunday, around 5 p.m. She had suffered a long illness. She passed away atthe Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, where she had resided since 1999. She was 92.

The news was announced by EWTN, the media network she founded.

Just weeks before Mother Angelica died, Pope Francis sent a personal greeting to her as he traveled to Cuba and Mexico. Alan Holdren, Rome correspondent for EWTN-owned Catholic News Agency, asked the pontiff to record a message to the ailing nun on Holdren’s cell phone as Francis greeted journalists on the papal flight.

“To Mother Angelica with my blessing,” the pope said. “And I ask you to pray for me; I need it. God bless you, Mother Angelica!”

Courtesy of the OLAM Nuns

In 2009, Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, awarded Mother Angelica the Cross of Honor for distinguished service to the Church. The medal, officially known as “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” (literally “For the Church and the Pope”), is the highest honor that the pope can bestow upon laity and religious. She was honored with the medal along with Deacon R. William Steltemeier, then-chairman of EWTN’s board of governors, who was a long and close collaborator with Mother Angelica. Deacon Steltemeier, a successful Nashville attorney who left his law practice to join Mother Angelica with her fledgling television network, died in 2013.

Born Rita Rizzo in Canton, Ohio, on April 20, 1923, she joined the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Canton at age 21. She later built a monastery in Alabama, in gratitude for a successful back operation following an accident.

In 1981, after an initial apostolate of publishing religious tracts, Mother Angelica — with a few hundred dollars in cash — launched the Eternal Word Television Network, initially broadcasting from her monastery’s garage. EWTN now transmits programming to more than 230 million homes in 144 countries and territories.

In an age when many religious orders were shedding traditional dress that dated back to the Middle Ages, Mother Angelica and her community reclaimed the garb in 1993, putting away their modified habits. Viewers saw a nun hosting a call-in talk show or leading an on-air Bible study while wearing a full-blown habit, covering everything but her face and hands.

Courtesy of the OLAM Nuns

That face was as expressive as Mother Angelica’s colorful language, scowling darkly at moral failings she identified in members of the Church or society, or brightening with a good laugh while making a point about some teaching of the faith. And the habit proclaimed an embrace of Catholic orthodoxy that might be said to have anticipated the so-called “reform of the reform” movement, which addressed what it saw as liturgical excesses put into practice after the Second Vatican Council.

Aside from founding EWTN and Our Lady of Angels Monastery in a rural area north of the Birmingham-based network, Mother Angelica built an adjacent Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and, with the aim of serving shrine pilgrims and her media interests, also founded the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, as well as the secular Knights of the Holy Eucharist.

On Christmas Eve 2001, the nun suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage and never regained full ability to speak. The millions who have viewed her television programs, as well as  those who knew her and worked with her, will not soon forget her voice, and many of her lessons. Raymond Arroyo, host of EWTN’s The World Over has shared that after her stroke, but before she went silent, one of her nuns asked Mother Angelica for a bit of wisdom, and she replied, “Who loves God loves everybody. Who hates God hates everybody.”

Courtesy of EWTN

Catholic leaders and others are sharing their memories of Mother Angelica with Aleteia. See here.

Complete funeral plans, including public events (in bold italics) and EWTN broadcast schedule on next page:

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. Rite of Reception: 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. The body will be transferred to the Monastery cloister for private visitation with the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration

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. A public rosary will be led by Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA in the Upper Church of the Shrine. Upon conclusion of the Rosary, a public visitation will begin.

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 in memoriam and conclusion of public visitation for the day.

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 in memoriam.

2 p.m. Holy Hour in memoriam.

5 p.m. Solemn Vespers. Evening Prayer will be chanted by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, the Community of Religious Men founded by Mother Angelica.

6-7 p.m. Remembering Mother with EWTN host Raymond Arroyo.

7 – 8:30 p.m. Vigil Service and Rosary. Conclusion of public visitation.
Friday, April 1 Music will be performed by a Schola composed of the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius in Chicago. The Homilist will be Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA.

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

The funeral Mass will be celebrated in the Shrine’s Upper Church by bishops and clergy from around the world. The homilist will be Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe, MFVA. The Mass will conclude with a Procession carrying Mother Angelica’s body through the Shrine’s Piazza and into the Crypt. The procession will be followed by the Rite of Committal and interment in the Crypt Chapel.

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. For a complete schedule of all memorial events and programming information, visit

Mother Angelica
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