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September 18, 1987     The Message
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September 18, 1987
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 September 18, 1987 Mother Angelica Risk -- and faith illustrate life of Catholic network head By CHRISTINE CAPRA NC News Service DENVER (NC) -- She grew up .... in rat-infested apartments in Canton, Ohio, but today Mother Angelica heads the foremost Catholic cable television satellite network in the world, all because of her willingness to risk. "We have lost the theology of risk and replaced it with the theology of assurance," said the 64-year-old Franciscan nun, head of the Alabama-based Eternal Word Television Net- work, during a recent visit to 7"4 Denver. She and her network were set to get additional nationwide ex- posure with the network's live coverage of the entire U.S. visit of Pope John Paul II. The broad- cast, co-produced and co- telecast by the U.S. bishops' Catholic Telecommunications Network of America, with Mother Angelica as one of the in-studio anchors, was available for viewing on cable ' television or via home satellite dish reception. According to Mother Angelica, the backbone of the theology of assurance that she rejects is that "you have to know what's going to happen before you embark on something new." Her life illustrates the theology of risk -- and faith. Born Rita Rizzo on April 20, 1923, she lived in the Italian immigrant section of Canton. Her mother, Mae Gianfrancisco, married John Rizzo in 1921 but he left the family shortly after the future nun's birth and the two eventually divorced. As a child she struggled to stay alive because of the lack of food and she tried to combat her mother's severe depression. "We lived in rat-infested apartments -- our life was so hard. I was interested in sur- vival so I didn't do well in school. It's hard when you're hungry and cold to study," "Where customers send their friends/"  Open nightly p.m. til 9 Ucblhor OLD US 231 SOUTH - JASPER, IN - 482-2222 "SINCE 1913" INSURANCE -- REAL ESTATE 464-5993 AUTO " HOME = FIRE LIABILITY WHAT ARE OFFICIAL CHURCH regulations about Homily given by a Religious Sister, Brother or lay per- son?.., about altar girls?.., about dancing in the liturgy? . . . about laypersons dipping the Host into the Consecrated Wine?... about General Confession and Absolu- tion? ... about children's commu- nion before confession, etc., etc.? For a FREE COPY of LITURGICAL DIRECTIVES send a business-size (9"), stamped (44), self-addressed envelope to: LITURGY "M" P.O. Box 104 Huntingburg, IN 47542 Mother Angelica said in an in- studios, she realized the terview with The Denver medium's power. She decided Catholic Register. to produce her own videotape But as her life went on she series with a local TV station. found a deep faith in God, and She sent one tape to the Chris- in August 1944 she joined a tian Broadcasting Network. Franciscan cloistered order in They wanted 60 more. Cleveland. Two years later she The series taught the basics of was back in Canton to help start t h e G o s p e 1 s a n d a i r e d a new monastery called Sancta throughout the country via the Clara, where in 1953 she pro- Christian network. Mother fessed solemn vows. Angelica became a familiar face to millions. ONE DAY WHILE using an When the station she had electric scrubbing machine in hired to produce the tapes was the monastery, she slipped on slated to run a film she con- the slick floor and was thrown sidered sacrilegious, she left against the wall. Her spine took the station and with $200 the full force of the blow, started her own TV operation -- leading to a painful injury in what was being built as a which two years later forced her garage for the monastery. into a hospital for treatment. MOTHER ANGELICA "I was the first Catholic Neither body cast nor traction tant Bible Belt. satellite in the world located in brought the natural spinal In her Alabama home, the Bible Belt and I was a alignment doctors sought. Mother Angelica saw that peo- cloistered nun -- God has a Surgery was ordered. She faced ple were leaving the sacraments sense of humor," Mother a 50-50 chance of walking after and church. She began to speak Angelica said. it. publicly about religion and to Today, her network employs "I panicked and I said 'Lord, p r o d u c e b o o k 1 e t s a n d 60 people and has the potential if you give me the grace to walk audiocassettes which had such to reach 14 million viewers. I'll build a monastery in the popularity that requests for Because of her programming, South.'" them came from all over the which is free to anyone whose The surgery was successful, world, cable affiliate carries her, she One day shortly afterward, Soon she began an in-house can reach many people others when she collapsed on her bed printing operation, though she do not, including today's and expected to drift off to once reportedly said the nuns youth. sleep, instead of dreams she "didn't know the difference saw building designs for the between a pound of ink and a "We've got to give the youth new monastery, ream of paper." Nevertheless, Jesus," Mother Angelica said. She got up, laid out a sheet of they soon were cranking out "With TV I can look them graph paper and began sket- 25,000 books a day, printing straight intheeye." ching. Her drawings became books of all sizes on presses TV also reaches others who the blueprints for what would operated bythe nuns. might not be exposed to the one day become Our Lady of the Mother Angelica's popularity Gospel. "Wherever you are, TV Angels Monastery in Irondale, quickly made her a sought-after is," she said. "Wherever you Ala., in the heart of the Protes- TV interviewee. Once in the TV are, the church should be." Sister Johnita Derr named director Sister Johnita Derr has been appointed Director of Admis- sions at Marian Heights Academy, Ferdinand. Sister Derr was an English teacher at the academy for four of her 11 years as a classroom teacher. Sister Derr also spent six years as a school administrator and 17 years as a health administrator. A Boonville native, she is a member of the St. Benedict Convent Council, and is on the board of directors of the Ohio Valley Hospice. She has a B.A. degree from the University of Evansville in secondary education and language arts and a Master's Degree in health administration from St. Louis University. SISTER JOHN1TA DERR CAN You .E,P? Birthright ] VO'UNTEERS ARE NEEDED