Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation founded EWTN in 1981, and it has since become the largest religious media network in the world. She died March 27, 2016 – Easter Sunday – after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years-old.
In his homily for the Mass, which was concelebrated by former Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi and attended by journalists from various media outlets as well as Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See Eduard Habsburg, Fisichella praised Mother as someone whose legacy would continue to last.
A year after her death, “we try to remember her words, her preaching – because it was (a type of) preaching – her witness and the work she did for the Church,” he said.
“The mystery of death raises questions in all of us, but it’s still a mystery,” he said. “We live and we are in front of a death to give sense to our lives.”
He pointed to the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the day’s first reading, who said that “no longer shall there be an old man who does not round out his full lifetime.”
“I think this word of the prophet can also be applied to Mother Angelica,” he said, explaining that “the sense of our lives, the sense of her life was determined by an encounter. She encountered Jesus Christ in her life, and for this reason she consecrated her whole life to Christ.”
Because of this Mother Angelica was above all “a woman of faith,” he said, and recalled an expression Mother herself frequently recited: “my dear friends, faith is what gets you started; hope is what keeps you going; love is what brings you to the end.”
Mother Angelica, he said, “was sustained by faith, she was a witness of hope, but love moved her entire life.”
Pointing to a passage from the day’s Gospel from John in which a nobleman, after learning that Jesus healed his son, “believed through the Word what Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way.”
“I think that is beautiful to reflect on Mother Angelica’s life with this expression,” Fisichella said. “She believed through the Word that Jesus spoke to her, she believed and there is no other reason.”
“She believed and all that she created was a consequence of this faith, of this encounter of faith. And then she went her way, and her way is what today millions of people can watch, can listen to, can reflect on.”
EWTN, he said, is not just a television network, but “a work and consequence of this vocation, of this encounter of Mother Angelica with Christ.”
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“This was her vocation, this she understood as the gift that Jesus himself gave to her. And she did it in a very strong way,” he said, noting how she was able to communicate the Gospel on TV “sine glossa,” meaning “without adding” or interpreting.
At times Mother even caused trouble with people, he said, explaining that “every time we announce the Gospel, we give trouble to someone.” But what Mother did was offer “a challenge.”
It was above all a challenge “to find the sense of your life, especially in a culture in which indifference and atheism is, it seems to be, in first place for many people,” he said.
Referencing another passage from Isaiah that says “‘they shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyard they plant,” the archbishop said Mother Angelica continues to live through EWTN’s witness.
“Mother Angelica’s vocation continues to give witness to the world of today, with your ability, capacity, will, to announce the Gospel of the Lord,” he told employees of the organization attending the Mass.
Fisichella closed his homily with another quote from Mother, who said that “everything starts with one person. I don’t care if you are five or 105, God from all eternity, chose you to be where you are at this time in history, and he chose you to change the world.”