Mother Angelica bigraphy, stories - Founders

Mother Angelica : biography

April 20, 1923 -

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, PCPA (born Rita Antoinette Rizzo on April 20, 1923) is an American Franciscan nun best known as a television personality and the founder of the Eternal Word Television Network.

In 1944, she entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, a Franciscan religious order for women, as a postulant, and a year later she was admitted to the order as a novice. She went on to find a new house for the order in 1962 in Irondale, Alabama, where the EWTN is headquartered, and in 1996 she initiated the building of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of the Angels monastery in Hanceville, Alabama.

Mother Angelica hosted shows on EWTN until she suffered a stroke in 2001. She is a recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award granted by Pope Benedict XVI and lives in the cloistered monastery in Hanceville.


Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama

Keeping the pledge she made before her surgery, Angelica began making preparations to establish a new monastery. After seeking all necessary permissions and raising funds by making and selling fishing lures, Angelica and four other sisters headed south. was officially established in Irondale, Alabama, on May 20, 1962.

The first postulant to be received was Mae Francis (Sister Mary David), Angelica's mother. A few months later Sister Mary Veronica, the former Abbess of the Sancta Clara Monastery, transferred to Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.

Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament

In 1996, Angelica began groundbreaking on a new monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, called the Shrine of The Most Blessed Sacrament. It was built with private donations. The nuns moved to the shrine in 1999. The friars remained in Irondale. When the shrine was completed in 1999, the daily Mass was telecast from there. In 2000, the daily Mass telecast originated from Irondale. EWTN airs several Benediction services from that monastery.

Reruns of her old Mother Angelica Live show appear regularly on the network. Also, reruns of her 1970s show, which aired on CBN and PTL, now called Catholic Classics, air regularly on EWTN.

Founding of EWTN

In the mid-1970s, Angelica began making videotaped programs for television and taping a Catholic teaching series for CBS affiliate Channel 42 WBMG (now WIAT). Shortly afterward, Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network got interest in airing her program over his satellite network CBN (now ABC Family Channel). Additionally, Christian television WCFC 38 (now WCPX) out of Chicago began airing her program in 1977. In the late 1970s, WBMG was scheduled to air a controversial movie from the CBS Network. Angelica refused to continue producing shows at that station unless they chose to preempt it. WBMG refused, so she ended the show temporarily and soon began building her own cable channel.

In 1980, a garage behind the monastery was converted into a television studio. Angelica was then able to tape her programs without leaving the monastery. They continued to air on various Christian stations while she began planning to buy satellite space to launch her own Catholic Cable channel. After many problems and glitches, Angelica signed on her cable channel on August 15, 1981, and named it Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). This service aired via satellite to cable companies and home satellite dishes as it still does today.

Initially, EWTN was on the air from 7 pm to 12 midnight daily. EWTN televised Mass weekly, Mother Angelica Live (a talk show), Catholic shows produced from various Catholic groups, children's Christian programs, Life Is Worth Living with Bishop Sheen, praying of the rosary, Lutheran dramas like This Is the Life, public domain movies, cooking shows, and a few 1950s westerns. Angelica was frequently seen on the network teaching or taking questions from viewers via telephone. She hosted the "Mother Angelica Live" television program which aired on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

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