Mother Angelica Founders of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) Dies Easter Sunday at 92

By Ernest Ohlhoff

Mother_Angelica62Mother Angelica, whose vision for a global Catholic television network was unprecedented, will be mourned by millions of people whose lives have been touched by her indomitable and God-centered spirit.

Mother Angelica made “pro-life” the cornerstone issue in all aspects of EWTN’s programming.

“A great pro-life visionary has gone to God,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “But the work Mother Angelica started has had a tremendous impact on the world and will continue to do so. EWTN is a great friend and ally to pro-life people of every faith. We are deeply grateful for her love and caring for all God’s children.”

Born Rita Antoinette Rizzo in Canton, Ohio, in 1923, Rita’s parents divorced when she was 6 years old. She and her mother lived on the edge of poverty, moving frequently. As a teenager, Mother Angelica experienced lengthy and serious health ailments. She prayed fervently for nine days and was cured. That experience led her to God.

On August 15, 1944, at the age of 21, she entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland, Ohio.

After moving to the South, Mother Angelica’s vision took form in Irondale, Alabama. Her natural and 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.

With only a high school education, no television experience, and only $200 in the bank, Mother Angelica officially launched the Eternal Word Television Network on August 15, 1981. She served as EWTN’s first Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. It was a long hard road and Mother Angelica faced bankruptcy several times. But she refused to allow paid advertisements to fund EWTN, relying solely on viewer donations.

In 1981 when Mother Angelica launched EWTN, it had approximately 20 employees. Today, EWTN’s staff of nearly 400 employees prepares and transmits 24-hour-a-day programming to more than 264 million homes in 144 countries. In addition, its religious network broadcasts terrestrial and shortwave radio around the world, operates a religious goods catalog, and publishes the National Catholic Register and Catholic News Agency, among other communication enterprises.

Mother Angelica is living proof that one determined person, with God’s grace can change the world.