Irondale, Ala., Apr 19, 2013 / 05:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Eternal Word Television Network is celebrating the 90th birthday of its foundress, Mother Angelica, on April 20 with 90 hours of programming featuring her wit and wisdom.
“I still marvel at what God accomplished through this great woman, and what continues to be accomplished with the ongoing prayers of Mother Angelica and the nuns,” said Michael Warsaw, president and CEO of EWTN, on April 19.
“That a cloistered nun with no experience was able to build a worldwide Catholic media network based in Irondale, Alabama reaffirms my faith every day. It is nothing short of miraculous.”
Mother Angelica was born in 1923 to an Italian-American family in Canton, Ohio. She led a difficult childhood marked by the divorce of her parents and her mother's poverty. In her youth, she suffered ptosis of the stomach, which gave her sever pains, but was remarkably cured, after which she devoted herself to God.
In 1944, Mother Angelica joined the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, a contemplative Franciscan community. She made her solemn profession of vows in 1953.
In 1961, she founded Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, a suburb of Birmingham, Ala., which has become the home of EWTN. She later relocated the monastery to the grounds of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, some 45 minutes north of Birmingham.
Mother Angelica began EWTN in a garage on the monastery property in 1981.
EWTN is now available in over 150 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. In its mission, it uses direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM and FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio, an internet website and a publishing arm.
Mother Angelica turned control of EWTN over to a board in 2000, and in 2001 suffered a stroke.
In October 2009, Benedict XVI awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal to Mother Angelica. The medal is the highest honor the Pope can bestow on religious and is given for service to the Church.
“The one thing we keep hearing from our viewers around the world is that Mother’s shows are as relevant now as when they first aired,” Warsaw said. “Even translated into other languages, her message resonates with people across all cultural and geographic boundaries.”
As Mother Angelica observes her 90th birthday, fans of her apostolate have sent numerous messages wishing her a blessed day, both on her Facebook page and at EWTN's website.
“You have been a wonderful inspiration in my life!! You have taught me so much about our faith, and for this I am now closer to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I am truly grateful to you!!! Happy 90th Birthday Mother Angelica!!! God Bless You Always,” wrote one fan.
Another said, “Happy Birthday to Mother Angelica. I have been watching your show for many years since the ‘80s. I am very fortunate as a result and wish you peace and blessings on your birthday!”
Father John Trigilio, an EWTN personality, wrote that when he first met Mother Angelica, she was so humorous that “my sides were hurting.”
“She is so down to earth, genuine, and straight-shooting and VERY Italian. She says what she means and means what she says.”