The Story of Mother Angelica & EWTN

EWTN: The television and radio organizations she started are nonprofits and provide free programming to cable and satellite-TV services, radio stations and other outlets around the world. The Eternal Word network estimates that its programs are available to 265 million households. The network has about 500 employees and an annual U.S. operating budget of $64 million.

Mother Angelica came from a broken family

Mother Angelica was born Rita Antoinette Rizzo on April 20, 1923, in Canton, Ohio. Her father was a tailor, and her mother suffered from depression. After her father abandoned the family, Rita and her mother moved in with the mother’s parents, who owned a saloon.

Mother Angelica get’s started

In 1962, she founded the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery near Birmingham, Ala. To pay their bills, the sisters sold hand-tied fishing lures and roasted peanuts. She began recording radio programs and appearing on Christian television shows. In 1978, she visited a Baptist TV station in Chicago and declared, “Lord, I’ve got to have one of these.” Later, she saw a blasphemous show in a Christian station and decided to stop filming for them and start her own, hence, Mother Angelica started working on her dream, EWTN. Three years later, at age 58, she founded her own network, EWTN.

Mother Angelica stands her ground

Mother Angelica used her pulpit in the 1990s to deplore changes to the liturgy that eliminated gender-specific language. She proposed “zero” obedience to an archbishop’s 1997 pastoral letter because she found he didn’t put enough stress on Christ’s presence in Communion bread and wine. The archbishop furiously demanded an apology. “Your Eminence,” she said, “if I have mistaken your letter I’m very sorry, but I still find it confusing.”

In the late 1990s, she spent more than $50 million to build a church and monastery, including a gold-leaf sanctuary and a gift shop, in Hanceville, Ala. When some of her TV viewers criticized her for opulence, she retorted: “You don’t object to big houses for kings and queens.”

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