Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica

Original Name Rita Antoinette Rizzo
Canton, Stark County, Ohio, USA
Death 27 Mar 2016 (aged 92)
Hanceville, Cullman County, Alabama, USA
Burial Cullman County, Alabama, USA
Plot Shrine's Crypt
Memorial ID 160101797 · View Source
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Roman Catholic Nun. The future Mother Angelica was born Rita Antoinette Rizzo, on April 20, 1923, in Canton, Ohio, in a community of Italian immigrant mill workers, in southeast Canton. Of Italian American background, she is the only child of John and Mae Helen Rizzo (née Gianfrancesco). She is named after Saint Rita of Cascia, whose feast date was upcoming at the time. Her father, a tailor by trade rather than a millworker, was not interested in having children in the first place and abandoned the family when Rita was very young. Her parents divorced in 1929, and her mother maintained full custody of Rita, but struggled with chronic depression and poverty. Her maternal grandparents kept Rita at times. Looking back upon this time in her life, Angelica described herself and her mother as being "like a pair of refugees. We were poor, hungry, and barely surviving on odd jobs before Mother learned the dry cleaning business as an apprentice to a Jewish tailor in our area. Even then, we pinched pennies just to keep food on the table." By the age of 16, Rita realized that her mother's dry-cleaning job was a dead end; through Rita's efforts, her mother got a better job that provided some relief from their dire poverty. After graduating from Canton McKinley High School in 1941, Rita tried many odd jobs. She began working at Timken Roller Bearing Company. Following work each day, she would stop at a local parish and pray the stations of the cross. She regularly attended Mass. Later in 1941, a stomach ailment from which Rita had suffered since 1939 required medical attention. By November of that year, x-rays revealed serious abnormalities in her stomach and intestines. The pain continued to worsen, with no alleviation. Medical treatment failed to relieve her suffering. According to Raymond Arroyo, after praying a novena, Rita still suffered from severe abdominal pain. She went to bed the night of January 17, 1943 and experienced the worst stomach pain yet. The next morning, Rita said that she had no pain whatsoever. She believed that God had performed a miracle. This experience profoundly touched Rita's life and led her to a very deep love for God. Angelica traces her lifelong commitment to God to this event. One evening in the summer of 1944, Rita stopped at a church to pray. Kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, Rita felt God was calling her to be a nun. She sought guidance from a local parish priest who encouraged her to begin visiting convents. Her first visit was to the Sisters of St. Joseph in Buffalo, New York. This active congregation felt, however, that Rita was better suited to the contemplative life. She also visited Saint Paul's Shrine of Perpetual Adoration, a facility operated by an order of cloistered contemplative nuns, located in Cleveland, Ohio. When visiting this order, Rita felt as if she were at home. The Order accepted her as a postulant, asking her to enter on August 15, 1944. The one heartache that Rita suffered was leaving her mother, who was very much opposed to her daughter's pursuing the religious life. So Rita secretly planned her departure. On August 14, she wrote her mother a letter. When Mae found it on the morning of August 15, Rita had already arrived at her destination. In part the letter read: "When you receive this letter, I will be in Cleveland. I have entered the Adoration Monastery at 40th and Euclid. You know it better as St. Paul's Shrine.... Something happened to me after my cure. What it was, I don't know. I fell completely in love with Our Lord. To live in the world for these past nineteen months has been very difficult. I love you very much and I have not forgotten what you have done for me. Please trust Him ... I ask your blessing that I may reach the heights I desire. I love you very much." On August 15, 1944, Rita Antoinette Rizzo became Sister Rita, when she arrived at Saint Paul's Shrine in Cleveland and entered the Adoration Monastery of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration (a cloistered contemplative order). As a postulant, Sister was introduced to the religious life. She joined the nuns in prayer, adoration, and manual labor. Among her early assignments were working in the laundry, baking altar breads, working in the kitchen, and cleaning floors. Before long, though, Rita's knees began to cause her problems; so her work assignments were altered. On November 8, 1945, Rita was invested as a Poor Clare nun. She received the brown Franciscan habit and white novice veil. She received a new name and title: Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. During her time as a novice, a wealthy couple offered their mansion to the nuns so that a new foundation could be established. This mansion was located in Canton, Ohio, Mother Angelica's hometown. After moving to Sancta Clara Monastery in Canton, her knee problem was alleviated. On January 2, 1947, Sister Angelica made her first profession of vows, and on January 2, 1953, Sister Angelica made her solemn profession of vows. Amid her caring for the spiritual needs of the novices and her other duties, Sister Angelica continued to help with the household chores. One such chore was scrubbing the floor with an electric scrubbing machine. While performing this task one day, she had a serious accident. Losing her balance on the soapy floor, Sister Angelica fell to her knees and was flung against the wall back first. Her spine was seriously injured. In the following months the injury worsened. She reported that the pain was unbearable. Finally, nearly two years after the accident, she was hospitalized and fitted with a body cast. Six weeks of traction proved to be no help, and so surgery followed. The night before the operation, fearing the worst, Sister Angelica prayed: "God! You didn't bring me this far just to lay me out on my back for life. Please, Lord Jesus, if You allow me to walk again I will build a monastery for Your glory. And I will build it in the South!" After four months of hospitalization, Sister Angelica was released, able to walk again. Keeping the pledge she made before her surgery, Mother Angelica began making preparations to establish a new monastery. After seeking all necessary permissions and raising funds by making and selling fishing lures,[4] Angelica and four other sisters headed south. Our Lady of the Angels Monastery was officially established in Irondale, Alabama, on May 20, 1962. The first postulant to be received was Mae Francis (Sister Mary David), Mother Angelica's mother. A few months later Sister Mary Veronica, the former Abbess of the Sancta Clara Monastery, transferred to Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. In 1996, Mother Angelica began groundbreaking on a new monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, called the Shrine of The Most Blessed Sacrament. It was built with private donations. The nuns moved to the shrine in 1999. The friars remained in Irondale. When the shrine was completed in 1999, the daily Mass was telecast from there. In 2000, the daily Mass telecast originated from Irondale. EWTN airs several Benediction services from that monastery. Reruns of her old Mother Angelica Live show appear regularly on the network. Also, reruns of her 1970s show, which aired on CBN and PTL, now called Catholic Classics, air regularly on EWTN. In the mid-1970s, Mother Angelica began making videotaped programs for television and taping a Catholic teaching series for CBS affiliate Channel 42 WBMG (now WIAT). Shortly afterward, Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network got interest in airing her program over his satellite network CBN (now ABC Family Channel). Additionally, Christian television WCFC 38 (now WCPX) out of Chicago began airing her program in 1977. In the late 1970s, WBMG was scheduled to air a controversial movie from the CBS Network. Mother Angelica refused to continue producing shows at that station unless they chose to preempt it. WBMG refused, so she ended the show temporarily and soon began building her own cable channel. In 1980, a garage behind the monastery was converted into a television studio. Mother Angelica was then able to tape her programs without leaving the monastery. They continued to air on various Christian stations while she began planning to buy satellite space to launch her own Catholic Cable channel. After many problems and glitches, Mother Angelica signed on her cable channel on August 15, 1981, and named it Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). This service aired via satellite to cable companies and home satellite dishes as it still does today. Initially, EWTN was on the air from 7 pm to 12 midnight daily. EWTN televised Mass weekly, Mother Angelica Live (a talk show), Catholic shows produced from various Catholic groups, children's Christian programs, Life Is Worth Living with Bishop Sheen, praying of the rosary, Lutheran dramas like This Is the Life, public domain movies, cooking shows, and a few 1950s westerns. Mother Angelica was frequently seen on the network teaching or taking questions from viewers via telephone. She hosted the "Mother Angelica Live" television program which aired on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. EWTN expanded to 12 hours a day in 1985 and 24 hours a day in 1987. By 1986, EWTN phased out the secular programs and began airing only religious programming. In 1991, EWTN began running the Mass every day. In 1992, Mother Angelica also founded WEWN to broadcast Catholic programs worldwide via short-wave radio. In 1992, EWTN began mixing Latin into some parts of the Mass, which is still done today. On Christmas of 1993, Mother Angelica and her nuns began dressing in a more traditional habit and veil, including the wimple. The theming of the channel began to focus more on Catholic traditions and began to be perceived as less ecumenical. EWTN has become a voice for American conservative and traditional Catholics, with its position on religious and social issues often mirroring that of Pope John Paul II. With the emphasis on tradition, Angelica has had feuds with some members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Most famous is the feud over a pastoral letter written by Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles over teachings surrounding the Eucharist and the liturgy. After this dispute, EWTN added a large theology department with conservative priests, theologians, deacons, and lay people to make sure EWTN is in line with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. EWTN is now available in over 150 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories.

Bio courtesy of: Wikipedia

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Michael P. Riedel
  • Added: 27 Mar 2016
  • Find a Grave Memorial 160101797
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mother Angelica (20 Apr 1923–27 Mar 2016), Find a Grave Memorial no. 160101797, citing Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Cullman County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .