Feast of St. Francis Benediction
-- Our Lady of the Angels Monastery -- October 4, 2009
Homily of the Most Reverend Robert J. Baker,
S.T.D., Bishop of Birmingham
celebrate St. Francis’ tremendous impact on the Church and on
people who do not claim the name Catholic or even Christian. We
celebrate His humility, simplicity, fidelity, wisdom, and his
promotion of human life and life in all its forms.
have the privilege of acknowledging the contributions to our
church of another person in the great Franciscan tradition,
whose link to St. Francis is through St. Clare. To be specific,
a daughter of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
spirituality and life, Mother Angelica.
The Holy See
has seen fit to present to her the pontifical medal “Pro
Ecclesia Et Pontifice,” in recognition of her founding what is
now the largest Catholic television network in the world, The
Eternal Word Television Network.
located in Irondale, Alabama, and was founded 28 years ago by
this Poor Clare nun. Mother Angelica traveled from Canton, Ohio
to Irondale, Alabama in 1961 at the invitation of Archbishop
Toolen, whose Diocese covered the State of Alabama, to build a
monastery in the south.
Toolen broke ground on Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in
Irondale on July 24, 1961, and dedicated that monastery on May
20, 1962. At the time, no one suspected that the 15-acre site
would become a worldwide television network.
first foray into television was a 60-part series for the
Christian broadcast network filmed from May to August in 1987.
In November of that year, Mother learned that the local
Birmingham station where she was filming her second series
planned to air a blasphemous movie. She confronted the station
manager, who told her that her television work would end without
facilities. Mother decided instead to build her own network –
funded entirely by contributions from viewers.
Angelica’s broadcasting went from the original four hours a day
to 24 hours a day, from pre-taped programs only to live shows in
the U.S. and around the world, from one channel in English to
eight channels in English, Spanish, German, and French, from
television to radio, to shortwave to internet, going now into
more than 150 million homes.
Ecclesia Et Pontifice Medal” is a significant acknowledgement by
our Holy Father, of Mother’s labors of love in support of our
Church and of our Holy Father. By giving awards, the Church is
not saying people or institutions are perfect, but we are saying
that Mother Angelica, through this network, has made a
significant contribution to the New Evangelization heralded and
promoted by recent Popes. Mother Angelica’s effort has been at
the vanguard of the New Evangelization and has had a great
impact on our world.
significant odds, she launched this network and, for that, we
We thank you,
Mother Angelica, for your wisdom, stamina, and faith that enable
EWTN to bring a message of faith, hope, and love 24 hours a day,
around the clock and around the world, every day of the year.
recognized with the Pontifical Medal “Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice”
is Deacon Bill Steltemeier, who has perpetuated this global
Catholic apostolate as chairman of the board, and until
recently, as chief executive officer. He is still helping EWTN
carry out its mission to join with the Holy Father and the
Magisterium in sharing the light of the faith in every possible
part of the world. We are grateful for the progress in
programming that Deacon Bill has promoted through his leadership
On the Feast
of St Francis, I am happy to acknowledge the labors of a
steadfast woman of faith, Mother Angelica, and a man of faith,
Deacon Bill Steltemeier, in gratitude for all they have done to
make Christ known, loved, and served by all – through the
Eternal Word Television Network.
blessing with the most Holy Eucharist in this service, I will
present these awards. Because of Mother’s health, she will
receive this papal honor in her private quarters.
May God bless
the good work of the Eternal Word Television Network and all who
serve the Church through efforts like EWTN