Cardinal hails Mother Angelica’s ‘extraordinary’ creativity on fifth anniversary of her death

Cardinal Fernando Filoni celebrates Mass in suffrage of Mother Angelica at the Choir Chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 27, 2021 Cardinal Fernando Filoni celebrates Mass in suffrage of Mother Angelica at the Choir Chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 27, 2021./ Pablo Esparza/CNA.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni recalled Saturday the “extraordinary creative capacities” of Mother Angelica as he celebrated Mass in suffrage of the EWTN founder on the fifth anniversary of her death.

Preaching at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica March 27, the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre said that the nun earned “the gratitude of the whole Church” for building a global media network at the service of the Gospel.

Mother Angelica began broadcasting from a converted garage in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1981. She died on March 27, 2016 -- Easter Sunday -- at the age of 92. By the time of her death, EWTN had become the largest religious media network in the world.

Filoni said: “She crossed the whole 20th century facing poverties and sufferings, which were constant friends in her life until the end; at the same time, she experienced the consolation of Jesus and the constant help of Divine Providence; she could not do what she did alone.”

“In a thick and, sometimes, black ‘wood’ of our world, the finger of God was guiding her: ‘I knew that God knew me and loved me and he was interested to me. All I would like to do’ -- she said after a serious sickness -- ‘was to donate myself to Jesus.’”

Filoni, a veteran Vatican diplomat who led the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2011 to 2019, noted that the nun, who was born Rita Rizzo, took the name Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation when she entered religious life in 1944.

“I do not know whether, assuming the name of ‘Annunciation,’ she had the perception of her future mission in the communications field,” he said.

The 74-year-old Italian cardinal, who was appointed Grand Master in December 2019, continued: “Becoming rich in many experiences, in contemplative life, in missionary accomplishments and pastoral initiatives, Mother Angelica, with her extraordinary creative capacities, generates the non-profit society EWTN, a broadcasting group linked to civil and religious life.”

“Spreading the Gospel in our society was the high finality of EWTN, with style and adherence to the truth: ‘The truth will set you free’ (John 8:32); the ‘Truth’ is Jesus: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). These words were always clear in Mother Angelica’s mind and heart.”

In his homily at Mass in the Choir Chapel of St. Peter’s Basilica, Filoni said that Mother Angelica was held in high regard by the past three popes.

“Mother Angelica was close to Pope John Paul II; she got the high esteem of Benedict XVI and the consideration of Pope Francis; the more and more she got, the gratitude of the whole Church and especially of the affectionate audience that maintains a link with EWTN,” he said.

“If we could consider EWTN Mother Angelica’s first ‘daughter.’ it has not been the only offspring of the ‘family,’ enriched by the National Catholic Register, Catholic News Agency, and so on.”

Addressing employees of EWTN present at the Mass, the cardinal said: “What is very important to you, dear friends, is the confidence of your listeners, readers and viewers: please, have always high respect for them; you can generate life, hope, confidence, love.”

He added: “It is necessary to build the sanctuary of the Lord among the peoples, in the families, in society, and nobody can do it better than a broadcasting network, able to enter beyond every door, many times closed; a sanctuary not made by material bricks, but by truth and love.”

“Remembering today Mother Angelica, we like to find a dart of fidelity to Christ, ‘the Light of nations’ (Lumen gentium, 1), and to his Church, being ‘like a sacrament or a sign and instrument’ of God among us.”

Concluding his homily, he said: “Finally, let us be reminded here of a few words of Pope Benedict the XVI when he started his pontificate: It is sufficient for me to be a simple worker in the vineyard of the Lord!”

“This is my wish to you, at the vigil of the Holy Week: Be good workers in the vineyard of the Lord!”

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“Thank you for your generous and appreciated work for the Church.”

“Mother Angelica, I am sure, she is happy.”

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