Mother Mary Angelica, PCPA
Foundress, EWTN Global Catholic Network and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery
Mother Angelica
Mother Angelica was born Rita Antoinette Rizzo on April 20, 1923 in southeast Canton, Ohio. Seemingly endless trials riddled her childhood, including divorce, poverty, isolation, and health problems. However, through two miraculous events in her childhood, Rita realized God’s love for her, and she decided to give her life to Him.

In 1944, Rita entered a Cleveland convent and became Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. More illness and injury appeared to jeopardize her future in religious life, but just before a risky operation on her back, Sister made God a life-changing promise. She told Him she would start a monastery in the South if He would allow her to walk again and, although the July 31, 1956 surgery was a medical failure, Sister found she could indeed walk.

Fulfilling her end of the deal, Mother Angelica, established a new monastery in Irondale in 1962, and spent the next chapter of her life giving speeches, television interviews, selling fishing lures and roasted peanuts, printing mini-books, recording talks, and speaking on the radio.

But it wasn't until Mother visited a Baptist-run television station atop a Chicago skyscraper in March 1978 that she turned her attention to a new medium: television. It was then that she famously declared: "Lord, I gotta have one of these."

Never one to do things by halves, Mother's first foray into television was a 60-part series for the Christian Broadcast Network, filmed from May to August 1978.

However, in November 1978, Mother discovered that the station where she was filming her second series planned to air a blasphemous movie. She threatened to pull out. The station manager told that her television career would end without his facilities. Mother told him she'd build her own studio. The station manager said she couldn't do it. Mother said: "You just watch me!"

Armed with only a high school education, $200, and 12 cloistered nuns with no television experience, Mother proceeded to turn the monastery garage into a television studio. EWTN received its FCC license on Jan. 27, 1981, making it the first Catholic satellite television station in the United States. A few months later, on Aug. 15, 1981, EWTN began broadcasting four hours a day to 60,000 homes.

Mother would go millions of dollars into debt over the course of building the Network, which has always been funded by viewer contributions – no advertising! Mother was no stranger to fear – but she kept moving and, through the grace of God, the Network grew and the debt was paid.

In addition to Mother’s official titles as the Network’s first Chairman and CEO, Mother hosted the popular and still running EWTN television show, "Mother Angelica Live," and founded the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, a religious community of men based in Irondale.

In 1995, Mother Angelica was inspired by God to build Our Lady of the Angels Monastery and Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in rural Hanceville, Ala., to which her order relocated in December 1999.

Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday 2016, a woman whose great faith continues to inspire millions around the world.

Now, in its 38th year, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 300 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories. EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; one of the largest Catholic websites in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including Catholic News Agency, “The National Catholic Register” newspaper, and several global news wire services; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing division.

The Network continues to grow – and all because one cloistered nun said “yes” to Jesus.