Born with the name Rita Rizzo, the famous nun who ran the Catholic broadcasting powerhouse, EWTN, joined the Poor Clares at age 21, becoming Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. She became one of the founders of a new monastery in Canton Ohio, and eventually won permission to build a new Monastery in the South in Feb of 1961. At that time, the Catholics in her target city of Irondale, Alabama, comprised just 2 percent of the population. With initial plans to broadcast some programs on a local station, Mother Angelica, found some other television content of that station to be severely incompatible with her own. Her objections fell on deaf ears, so she decided to build her own television station in the garage of her facility. This was the beginning of EWTN, Eternal Word Television Network, which has brought traditional Catholicism into homes it might never have reached by conventional means. This network has served since 1981, as a major support of the teachings of the Catholic Church during a period in which it is being opposed from all sides. The extensive influence Mother Angelica’s ministry has been recognized world wide by both friends and foes.
In 2000, Mother Angelica stepped down from leading EWTN, but remained actively broadcasting, even after a stroke in Sept. of 2001. During this brief period, some famous imagery of the “Pirate Nun” became available as she continued to convert people and transform lives. She later suffered a more severe stroke and underwent a thrombectomy which relieved the paralysis in her face, but led to more paralysis on the opposite side of her body, as well as damage to her speech centers. From that time forward, she stopped hosting television programs, although she taped the 2003 “Recitation of the Holy Rosary with Mother Angelica and the Nuns”.
At EWTN, it is felt that their ministry has been supported by the prayers of Mother Angelica during the many years of being effectively cloistered in the aftermath of her strokes. Her prayer became strong as her speech became weak. Yesterday, on Easter Sunday, the Creator granted Mother Angelica her Celestial Discharge. Prayers for her and her Sisters and the continuance of their ministry.