Father Mitch Pacwa, the Jesuit priest who has two shows on EWTN, was in Connecticut this weekend to give a retreat. The Register’s news editor, John Burger, was there and asked him during a break for an update on Mother Angelica.
The founder of Eternal Word Television Network celebrated 65 years in religious life on the feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15. The network continues to grow and reaches millions of people around the world. But the 86-year-old nun herself has been debilitated by a couple of strokes in recent years, and a cerebral hemorrhage has left her with extremely limited speech abilities.
“She’s pretty much the same,” Father Pacwa said. “The hemorrhage was on the left side of her brain, where the speech center is. She speaks a little by rerouting around that part, especially when she’s with the sisters. She’s comfortable with them, and they understand her. She doesn’t do any writing. She reads a little, but not whole books.”
She also prays and watches programming on the network she founded 28 years ago. “She keeps an eye on me,” said Father Pacwa, who hosts “EWTN Live” and “Threshold of Hope.”
He added that she usually cannot get out of bed for Mass, and it’s difficult for her to get into a wheelchair, so she watches Mass on EWTN, and someone brings her holy Communion. She tires very easily, her ability to stay awake is limited, and she has experienced muscle atrophy.
But Mother Angelica also enjoys watching some good comedy, Father Pacwa said. EWTN news director Raymond Arroyo brought her a collection of “I Love Lucy” on DVD, for example. Father Pacwa last summer brought her something, too, to cheer her up.
“I went to see her and brought her a collection of old Jack Benny shows,” he said. “One of Mother’s great abilities was a natural comedic timing, much like Jack Benny. But she had never seen his shows, since in those days the convent didn’t have a television.”
She thoroughly enjoyed the shows.
“She laughed her head off,” he said. “In fact, at one point, she was laughing so hard she started choking. They had to take the DVDs away for a while.”