IRONDALE, Ala. — On Easter Sunday one year ago, Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation departed this life at the age of 92.
The Poor Clare nun was founder of a Catholic media empire that includes radio, TV and internet channels, as well as print media, bringing Catholic teaching and devotions to more than 264 million households.
Pope Benedict XVI had awarded her the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal for her service to the Catholic Church. But after a series of strokes had left her unable to communicate, she spent the last 15 years of her life in silent prayer for the Church, the world and the media enterprise she had built.
Now, one year after her death, Mother Angelica’s friends, fans and devoted followers will gather at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, and at Eternal Word Television Network’s chapel in Irondale to pray and honor her legacy.
On March 26, the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word and the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration, the orders Mother Angelica founded, will conduct a memorial Holy Hour at 5pm Central in the main church in Hanceville.
The following day, there will be a memorial Mass with the friars at 7am Central in the EWTN chapel. And at 11am, Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham will celebrate a memorial Mass at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville.
All events will be televised live on EWTN. (See TV listings.)
Bishop Baker talked with the Register about the feisty nun. “I pray for Mother Angelica and her sisters every day,” Bishop Baker said. “I pray for Mother Dolores, her successor, and for her community.”
Bishop Baker’s memories span four decades. “I have known of Mother Angelica since the 1970s,” he told the Register, “from the pamphlets she published on the Catholic faith. They are very good! Some of them are now being reprinted in book form.”
Bishop Baker took advantage of her teaching apostolate early on: In the 1970s, while serving as director of the St. Augustine Catholic Student Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville, he made her pamphlets available to interested students.
Mother Angelica had already suffered a stroke when Bishop Baker was named to lead the Birmingham Diocese in 2007, but she was still able to communicate, and Bishop Baker remembers dining with her.
“Among her major contributions to the Church,” he said, “she tried to instill a sense of reverence for the Holy Eucharist, and she began praying the Rosary over the air — a practice which continues today.” Bishop Baker pointed out that her legacy lives on, and Catholics will celebrate that legacy March 27.
EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Warsaw, in an editorial published in L’Osservatore Romano at the time of Mother Angelica’s death, wrote that her whole life reflected her “unconditional ‘Yes’ to God and her unchangeable trust in Providence.”
EWTN’s continued growth in the years following her stroke was, Warsaw believed, due to her ceaselessly watching over it with her prayers.
Radio broadcaster Al Kresta, whose popular program Kresta in the Afternoon is syndicated on EWTN Global Catholic Radio stations and on EWTN SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 130, said of Mother Angelica, “When historians look at American Catholicism in the post-Vatican II era, a few names will stand out as true cooperators with Popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. At the top of that list will be Mother Angelica, especially for her founding of EWTN and her championing of dynamic orthodoxy.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called the timing of Mother Angelica’s death, on Easter Sunday, “a gift.”
And Pope Francis, en route to Cuba Feb. 16, 2016, recorded a message for Mother Angelica as she neared the end of her earthly life. He said, “To Mother Angelica, with my blessing, and I ask you to pray for me; I need it. God bless you, Mother Angelica.”
Speaking of Mother Angelica’s influence, EWTN’s Warsaw told the Register:
“As we approach the first anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica, I am reminded of the many ways her example continues to guide our mission and inspires all of us here at EWTN. She remains for us a guiding light as we make our way through these very secular and troubled times.
“Over the past year, I have heard so many moving stories from people all over the world about what Mother meant to them. Her legacy lives on through EWTN and through the lives of everyone who was impacted by her.”
Kathy Schiffer writes from Southfield, Michigan.
Search “Mother Angelica” to read more Register remembrances.