Notable Deaths ›

Mother Mary Angelica (1923 - 2016)

AP Photo / Birmingham Post-Herald / Philip Holman

Mother Mary Angelica (1923 - 2016)

Mother Mary Angelica, a Roman Catholic nun who founded a global religious television network that reaches hundreds of millions of believers, died Easter Sunday of complications after a stroke. She was 92.

Mother Angelica founded the Eternal Word Television Network in 1981 in a garage at the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery that she founded in 1962 in Irondale, Alabama. The network presents around-the-clock programming to more than 264 million homes in more than 144 countries, according to a news release by the network, which started with about 20 employees and has grown to nearly 400 people. The religious network broadcasts land-based and shortwave radio around the world, runs a catalog business selling religious goods, and operates several publishing ventures, including the National Catholic Register and the Catholic News Agency.

In the release, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said the nun "succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieve. She founded and grew a network that appealed to everyday Catholics, understood their needs, and fed their spirits. She had a lot of help, obviously, but that was part of her genius." Chaput has served on the network's board of governors since 1995.

Mother Angelica was born Rita Rizzo April 20, 1923, in Canton, Ohio. She moved around frequently when she was a young girl. In 1944, she entered Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland, Ohio, taking the name Sister Mary Angelica.

In 1969, the charismatic speaker began recording spiritual talks for mass distribution. She recorded her first radio program in 1971, 10-minute programs for WBRC, according to her biography, "Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles," by Raymond Arroyo, host of EWTN’s "The World Over."

Mother Angelica worked in a secular studio until she had a falling out with the station in 1978 over its plan to air a program that she believed to be blasphemous. She left the station and resumed her recording sessions in a garage that had been converted into a television studio.

"Eternal Word Television Network was launched, fittingly, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, Aug. 15, 1981," the network said in its release. "That garage became the first television studio and eventually became the control room — the nerve center — for EWTN’s global television programming."

We invite you to share condolences for Mother Mary Angelica in our Guest Book.