Monday, March 28, 2016

Remembering Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation

On April 20th a woman would be born who would do much good for the Catholic Church in regards to media and the promotion of the faith. Born Rita Antoinette Rizzo in 1923, she would join the Franciscan order as a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration in 1944 and would take the name Mary Angelica of the Annunciation.  She was born to John Rizzo and Mae Gianfrancesco Rizzo. John Rizzo was abusive while Mae Gianfrancesco was a docile wife, which was expected of women in the 20's. Neither were religious.  Despite this, Mae would join the parish of St. Anthony and would assist with Italian festivals.  However, the murder of the parish's pastor, Father Joseph Riccardi due to his interference with the mob and drug activity, both Rita and her mother Mae would be affected. In 1930, Mae fights for custody of Rita and wins. She divorces John.  However, Rita's father would not pay child support and would leave his family to suffer.   Rita's mother would later open a dry cleaning business and would often conflict with Rita. While attending Catholic school, Rita would face the harsh and cruel behavior from religious nuns of the time. This would force Rita to go to public school.  However, their priest, would convince them to return.  The return would be short. Both Rita and Mae would face cruelty once again which force them to abandon the Church for quite some time. Rita would eventually take control of the dry cleaning business after her mom would threaten suicide and was clearly not mentally stable.  Rita had to become the adult.  Later on, Rita would experience what she described as a miracle. While running to catch a bus, a car was about to hit her.  Rita felt hands lift her up.  However, the bus driver claims that he saw no one lift her and said that he never saw someone jump so high.

Rita was not a great student. She would even comment on Mother Angelic live that she "worked hard for her f's."  In fact, she failed 11th grade and had to go to summer school where she would learn the skills that would help her later in life. She only had a high school diploma. In 1944, on August 15, Rita would enter the convent in Cleveland, Ohio taking the name Angelica of the Annunciation. In the 60's, she would move to Irondale, Alabama and found a community of sisters there.  Mother Angelica would tape programs for television networks in the 1970's.  However, when one of the networks refused to air a controversial program, Mother decided to stop producing her a program and founded her own network.

On August 15, 1981 EWTN or the Eternal Word Television Network was founded in a garage with the budget of only $200.  Many thought that this network would not last, but it did and grew in such a way that defies the normal growth of a television network.  By the late 80's, the network was broadcasting for 24 hours. In the 90's, the network would go global and would have WEWN, its short-wave radio version.

As the internet became more accessible to the general public, EWTN went online with www.ewtn.com.  It began to broadcast on there as well and provided more resources for those interested in the Catholic faith.  Many people have joined or returned to the Catholic Church because of EWTN. EWTN provided a channel where people can learn on the Catholic faith, call in to have questions answered and have a sense of connection with the global Church since secular media hardly covers Papal events.

EWTN and Mother Angelica did face some controversies due to fallen human nature in the Church.  Some bishops, in particular Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles took to heart Mother Angelica's blunt attitude.  They saw her as trying to overthrow the bishops.  Cardinal Mahony tried to get Mother Angelica off the air, but failed to do so. Mother Angelica would then hand over authority and possession of the network to lay people after an attempt was made to take over the network because as a religious, Angelica falls under the authority of the Church.

Some have accused EWTN of being pre-Vatican II orientated and teaching errors; however, Pope Benedict XVI awarded the network and Mother Angelica the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award. Others claim Mother is rude, arrogant, uncharitable and condescending.  Mother Angelica has battled health issues since her days as a novice.  She had a back brace for a while until she was cured when a visionary visited EWTN.  Mother would then suffer a stroke which would take away her voice. She eventually retired from the network and was recovering the best she could.  In late 2015, a feeding tube was placed indicating that her health had further declined.  On Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016  Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation would be called home to her Lord whom she served so well.  She passed on at around 5:00 PM EST.


My Remembrance:

As a former atheist, I only heard of religious things from the perspective of academia in college. I never went to Catholic school or participated in any religious institution. These things were just not part of my upbringing. It was EWTN which really gave me a direct link to Catholicism.  I had no priest, nun or Catholic lay person to go to for information. EWTN introduced to me many things about Catholicism, including things from the time before Vatican II. Like a sponge, I absorbed all the knowledge from EWTN. I did follow up research and learned even more. Watching Mother Angelica live was a joy. She was down to earth, direct, and hilarious. She had that grandmother feel to her which I liked. In fact, she looks a lot like my own grandmother from my mom's side who is with God now!  I remember I wrote her and EWTN a letter and they sent me a monstrance pendant and assured me of their prayers.  I cherish it daily.

After being received into the Church, Mother Angelica's zeal for evangelization inspired me greatly. In my latter years of school, I would teach my peers about Catholicism and gave them Rosaries. I just felt compelled to promote the faith. I would even do street evangelization and would join the Legion of Mary. We would go door to door evangelizing. This eventually led me to starting this site, the podcast, becoming active on social media and writing my book 'Atheism Is Stupid.' Mother Angelica's trust on God's providence was inspirational to me.  Even today, I trust God will let this 'Sacerdotus' work continue. It never ceases to amaze me how many message me and help me financially in order to pay for domain names and other things related to my online evangelization.  God truly does provide!  Watching her hold the Bible on television increased my love for God's Word.  I never get tired of reading the Bible and studying it. Mother saw this collection of books as the living Word and I see that as well.

Mother Angelica will be missed greatly. I cried at the chapel while praying for her.  I was sad to learn of her death, but also happy.  I am happy because she now has rest in the Lord and will be praying for us here left on Earth still in the struggle.  If bishops, priests etc had her courage, faith, passion and zeal for the faith, we would not see the evils we see in today's world. God used Mother to promote the faith. It is not a coincidence that EWTN was founded on the same day she entered the convent, August 15 which is the solemnity of the Assumption.  Moreover, it is not a coincidence that she passed away on Easter Sunday, the day of the Resurrection.  Jesus said in John 11:25 that those who believe in Him though they die, will live forever.

Thank you Mother Angelica for EWTN and most importantly, YOU. God used you along with many others to bring me to the Catholic faith and leave stupidities atheism behind.  You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7 ).  May you rest in peace and please pray for us.



Eternal rest grant to Mary Angelica of the Annunciation and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she through the mercy of God rest in peace.  

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, pray for us!      








Source:

http://ewtn.com/motherangelica/life.asp#

ewtn.com





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