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Catholic media pioneer dies

ALABAMA (SE): Rita Rizzo, known to the world as Mother Angelica, founder of the vast United States of America (US) Catholic Eternal World Television Network (ETWN), died on Easter Sunday, March 27, at the age of 92.

She joined the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration at the age of 21 and later established Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, which was initially supported by producing religious pamphlets.

Buoyed by her initial success, she made a venture into broadcasting. Despite never having had any experience in mass media, she reigned over the EWTN network from its foundation in 1981 until she suffered a stroke in 2000, when it had already become an international empire broadcasting to 144 countries and reaching more than 230 million homes.

A press release from EWTN says, “An unlikely television star, Mother Angelica endeared herself to her growing audience with her homespun humour, her feisty and opinionated commentary, and her simple, but profound faith. She did not back away from confrontation with powerful prelates and strongly resisted efforts by the US hierarchy to take control of Catholic television programming.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput, from Philadelphia, said in a tribute, “Mother Angelica succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieve.”

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said in a tribute to Mother Angelica from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Mother Angelica reflected the gospel commission to go forth and make disciples of all nations and like the best evangelists, she used the communications tools of her time to make this happen. She displayed a unique capacity for mission and showed the world once again the vital contribution of women religious.”


Archbishop Kurtz concluded, “She was a convincing sign as to how even the humblest of beginnings can yield abundant fruit. I join those who lived and worked with her, as well as her many viewers, in thanking God for this extraordinary woman, devout believer and media pioneer.”

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