Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Catholic TV Pioneer Mother Angelica Dead at 92

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Catholic TV Pioneer Mother Angelica Dead at 92

Article excerpt

Mother Angelica, the conservative nun who founded the Eternal Word Television Network, died on Easter Sunday, March 27, 15 years after a debilitating stroke on Christmas Eve. She was 92.

Although she was only able to communicate with a squeeze of her hand for many years, she retained devoted admirers nationwide who followed the Catholic cable channel she started in 1981.

Mother Angelica "reflected the Gospel commission to go forth and make disciples of all nations" said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. bishops' conference. "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."

Born Rita Rizzo in Canton, Ohio, in 1923, Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation --as she came to be known --entered the Poor Clares, a branch of the Franciscan order, in 1944. She went on to found a monastery in Irondale, Ala., in 1962 and in the 1990s started the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, where she resided in her last years, about an hour north in Hanceville.

She began her broadcasting career with commercial television spots, created in the monastery garage. When those were pre-empted, she launched EWTN. It became a beacon of conservative orthodoxy, thanks in large part to the regular--and distinctive--on-air presence of Mother Angelica herself.

Wearing a black-and-white habit and a sweet but steely smile, Mother Angelica would not hesitate to scold church leaders who she felt were too lax in their teachings or practices. She promoted traditional devotions and rites and claimed to have experienced mystical visions herself.

In 1997, she got into a public squabble with Cardinal Roger Mahony then archbishop of Los Angeles, when, on her TV show "Mother Angelica Live," she criticized his pastoral letter on the Eucharist, saying it was confusing about the real presence of Christ. …

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