- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday.

The Poor Clare nun became the face of Catholic media during the Pope John Paul era by founding Eternal Word Television Network and being its most prominent on-air personality.

EWTN confirmed the death Sunday, almost 15 years after a stroke took the power of speech and the ability to appear on the air from its founder, whose formal religious name was Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation and was born Rita Rizzo. She was 92.

“Mother has always and will always personify EWTN, the network that God asked her to found,” EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw said in a statement distributed to Catholic media outlets. “Her accomplishments and legacies in evangelization throughout the world are nothing short of miraculous and can only be attributed to divine Providence and her unwavering faithfulness to Our Lord.”

When Mother Angelica founded EWTN in 1981, she was broadcasting just four hours a day from a garage studio at the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama — her own live call-in show, a Sunday Mass and reruns of older Catholic programming.

By the time of her death, EWTN was transmitting 24/7 to more than 250 million homes in 144 countries. It also had become a mixed-media corporation, acquiring the National Catholic Register newspaper.

Mother Angelica’s TV persona combined both the stern disapproval of an old-school nun with an impish sense of humor, smiling after tossing off some bon mot.

“Mother Angelica succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieve,” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who has served on EWTN’s board of governors since 1995, told the Catholic News Agency. “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.”

EWTN announced a week of special programming, public visitations and Church ceremonies, with the funeral mass scheduled for Friday.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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