A year ago today, Mother Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network and a powerful force for orthodoxy and the Church, passed away. She was an amazing figure who helped convert and revert untold thousands — one of them myself. It seems only natural to me that she passed away on Easter Sunday; and perhaps it’s worth pointing out that, according to tradition, last year’s Easter fell on the same day of the year as the first Easter.
Whether that tradition is accurate or not, I don’t think I could pick a better day to shuffle off this mortal coil than the celebration of Christ rising from the dead. And reportedly, she suffered from sudden and intense pain on Good Friday that only went away after 3pm; the pain returned in the early hours of Easter Sunday, and she finally passed that late afternoon.
Were it not for Mother Angelica, I would not be who I am. I would not be Catholic. I would not have gone to Christendom College. I would not have met most of the people I’m friends with today. I have absolutely no clue who I would be without her.
Mother Angelica was the reason my own mother took the leap to Catholicism. Without that, I never would have met Pope John Paul II, literally the first time I ever felt comfortable in a church. I never would have learned about Catholicism while living in Rome, the heart of Christendom. I never would have taken an interest in Ireland that lead me to understand why people would stubbornly stay with a weird religion despite centuries of oppression, and then taken me to Christendom College because of their Irish program. I wouldn’t have the education I gained there, which enables me to help the people I help today. I shudder to think of the path I was on, even as late as my twenties, and how easy it would have been to step aside from the path that all these small yet immense coincidences laid out before me.
All of that because one nun happened to show up on my family’s television one day.
I’ve told this story many times before, and there’s more to it. But the point I want to focus on here is that I’m not the only one out there who was touched by this woman whom I never met. She did what so many said was impossible, and brought the fullness of Catholicism to people who might not have ever entered a Catholic church, but instead found God through a television.
Mother Angelica’s cause for sainthood has not yet been officially opened, but I look forward to watching it unfold more than any other candidate out there — even more than Pope St. John Paul the Great, whom I actually did meet in person.
Thank you, Mother. I know you’re watching.