Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Thanks for the Memories, Mother Angelica (Part II: How I Saw First Hand the World Wide Scope of ETWN)

In the fall of 2005, I got first-hand experience of the reach of EWTN, even though I still had never watched another show. I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with three priests as spiritual directors, and one of them was Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe from EWTN, who I came to respect immensely.
Fr. Joseph (left) in Jerusalem
I learned from Fr. Joseph that he had started at EWTN as an engineer in 1985 and that two years later after much gentle cajoling from Mother Angelica, and even though, as he said, he had other plans, he became the first religious member of MFVA, the Francisan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, a clerical association of men that Mother Angelica founded to serve the network and her monastery of cloistered Poor Clare nuns of Perpetual Adoration.
Fr. Joseph wearing the habit designed by Mother Angelica with an embroidered monstrance on the front, waiting at the Holy SepulchreFr. Joseph in the Amsterdam train station (facing away from the camera) with his matching back pack.
During a layover in the Amsterdam airport on our way to Israel, Fr. Joseph was recognized by a Filipino couple who were also passing through, and they asked me to take a photo of them with him. Later in Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem, I was deeply moved by seeing some beleaguered Palestinian Catholics, who were suffering even then back then, who eagerly came up to talk with Fr. Joseph Mary because they recognized him from seeing him celebrating Mass on the network. "What did they say to you?" I asked Fr. Joseph later. He said that they told him with great emotion, "EWTN gives us hope."

One day months later I sent a letter to Deacon Bill Steltemeir, chairman of EWTN. I mentioned in my letter that I had started watching EWTN after my Israeli pilgrimage that previous November when I met Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe. And, I added, Fr. Joseph was such a good pure priest, I started watching EWTN Masses to see if I could see more of him.

You have to know that Deacon Bill was a bit of a teaser. Deacon Bill wrote me back, and in his letter he mentioned that when he repeated to Fr. Joseph what I had written about him being such a good pure priest, that Fr. Joseph blushed!

Fr. Joseph attended Mother Angelica during the last three days of her life from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, and he gave her Extreme Unction and the Apostolic Blessing before she died. She had a sharp sense of humor, so I think she wouldn't mind if I mention that the Apostolic Blessing at the time of death is sometimes referred to as the "Get Out of Purgatory Free" Blessing, because it remits all the temporal punishment due to sin. I pray I can get me one of those. 
Fr. Joseph Accompanies Mother's Coffin to the Cloister

This is a part II of a series. See also Part I, Part III. and Part IV.




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