.- The legacy of Mother Angelica, the Poor Clare nun who founded Catholic cable channel EWTN, continues to live on in those who watched her or worked with her.
At the 10th annual EWTN family celebration, the first since Mother’s death on Easter Sunday this past year, both viewers and staff of the network recalled their favorite memories of the formidable nun over the years.
Brother Leo (of Hey Brother Leo! fame) joined the friars with the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word in 1992, the order of friars founded by Mother Angelica. Soon after he joined, he began floor directing Mother Angelica for her live show.
The most difficult part about getting Mother ready for her shows was making sure she was in her seat on time, he told CNA.
“She loved to talk with people (in the audience) before her live show. Trying to get her on the set was not easy,” he said.
Brother Leo added that although Mother was not always this way with everyone, she was especially gentle and motherly to him.
“My mother died when I was three and so she was like a mother to me,” he said. “She was there to encourage me...because she probably knew that I needed that type of comfort. She would encourage me when I was floor directing and smile at me. I always enjoyed working with her live shows.”
During a talk at the family event, Fr. Wade Menezes recalled Mother’s propensity for taking chances, especially on people.
It was early in the Jubilee Year of 2000, and Mother Angelica’s sisters needed a priest in residence who would say Mass for the sisters and could help the friars at EWTN. Mother called Fr. Menezes’ superior at the time, asking if he had any priests.
Because of Fr. Menezes’ background in journalism, his superior decided to recommend him for the post.
“Mother I have just the man for you,” his superior told the nun. “But there’s only one problem. He’s not ordained yet.”
“We’ll take him!” Mother responded.
“So I always saw that as Mother being a mother,” Fr. Menezes said. “She was taking on this baby priest and being a mentor to me of sorts - there was something very special about mother willing to take that risk.”
But Mother’s influence extended beyond the staff and clergy working with her at EWTN. Throughout the course of the weekend, many viewers shared their stories of conversion after watching the nun on T.V.
Kate Eberwyn was a lapsed Catholic who was “very negative about Catholicism”, and although her family remained devout, she “thought they were all stupid.”
But as she watched the Twin Towers collapse on T.V. on Sept. 11, she thought the world was ending. Flipping through the T.V. channels, she saw a nun talking to a friar - Mother Angelica and Fr. Benedict Groeschel.
“They said that in a time like this we should pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe who is the patroness of the Americas,” she recalled.
“So, I said to (God), ‘I don’t know much about you, I don’t even think I like you, but I’m going to pray.’”
She went back to confession and to Mass, and has been a devout Catholic ever since, she said.
Jean, a viewer from Chicago, said when she was about 11 or 12 she wanted to learn how to pray the rosary, so she started watching Mother Angelica’s show every night.
“She taught me all of the prayers to the rosary, and I’ve prayed it daily ever since, so she really helped me foster my relationship with Mary and to learn to love the Blessed Mother,” she said.
Throughout the weekend, many who knew Mother Angelica reiterated that it was her faith in Jesus, and her ability to draw others to him, that was and continues to be the legacy of Mother, more so than just simply being a T.V. personality.
“I can’t say how many people I’ve met who have said I learned to pray the rosary by watching EWTN,” said Michael Warsaw, CEO of EWTN.
During the family talk, Warsaw said if he could sum up the legacy of Mother Angelica, it would be with one of her own favorite phrases, which was: “Dare to do the ridiculous, so God can do the miraculous.”
“Dare to do the ridiculous. We should all be willing to do those things which in the eyes of the world are ridiculous, so that we can assist God in accomplishing the miraculous That’s what Mother Angelica did when founding EWTN 35 years ago.”
Mother Angelica, a cloistered nun, began the network out of her garage in 1981. It is now the largest religious media network in the world, providing Catholic media through television, radio, the internet, print services like the National Catholic Register and wire services like Catholic News Agency.
“She did something that in the eyes of the world was completely ridiculous but she knew that if she stepped out in faith, God would use her and her new network to accomplish the miraculous,” Warsaw added.
“The stories we’ve heard tonight, what we’ve heard throughout this weekend is confirmation of that.”
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