When Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was launched on August 15, 1981, many felt there would be little demand for a Catholic network. Now, in its 28th year, EWTN has become the largest religious media network in the world, transmitting programming 24 hours a day to more than 148 million homes in 144 countries and territories on more than 4,800 cable systems, wireless cable, Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), low power TV and individual satellite users.
In the early 1960s, Mother M. Angelica, a Poor Clare nun, cloistered and dedicated to the perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, fulfilling a promise made to our Lord, founded Our Lady of Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama, in the Deep South. In one of her early evangelizing efforts Mother Angelica began writing "mini-books", short teachings on a variety of religious themes. As the popularity of these "mini-books" grew, her nuns obtained a printing press and started duplicating and distributing them worldwide.
Soon, Mother began receiving requests for speaking engagements, evolving into a video series of her talks taped at a local Birmingham television station. The Poor Clare nun, who knew little of the world of technology and communication, then built her own TV studio on monastery property in Irondale, which today is home to Eternal Word Television Network. What began 24 years ago as a garage-turned-TV-studio is now a state of the art audiovisual complex funded totally by gifts from individuals and groups and visited annually by thousands of pilgrims. EWTN Global Catholic Network airs family and religious programming from a Catholic point of view in English and Spanish. Providing more than 80% original programming, EWTN offers inspiring talk shows, entertaining children's animation, exclusive teaching series, live coverage of Church events, and thought-provoking documentaries.
Beyond the broadcast vision, however, first and foremost, the spiritual heart of the EWTN mission is to bring the Eternal Word, Jesus Christ, to all. The religious centers of the network are visited daily by pilgrims who travel to Irondale to worship in the chapel or visit the breathtakingly beautiful Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. Visitors of all faiths are invited to "come away by yourself to a quiet place, and rest awhile" (Mark 6:31) and to pray before the Most Blessed Sacrament, adored and loved perpetually by the cloistered nuns now living at Our Lady of Angels Monastery in Hanceville or by the faithful in Irondale.
Without making plans for the future, Mother Angelica, relying completely on Divine Providence, believes in going "where God opens the door." It is that deep and constant faith in the Lord, which has called Mother Angelica to act on God's invitation to do the impossible, through Him, who accomplishes the miraculous.
In 1995, Mother M. Angelica was traveling in South America on business for EWTN. While in Colombia Mother Angelica and the nuns attended Mass at the Sanctuary of the Divine Infant Jesus. After Mass, they were invited into the small Shrine housing a miraculous statue of the Child Jesus.
Mother Angelica stood praying at the side of the statue when suddenly the miraculous image came alive and turned towards her. Then the Child Jesus spoke with the voice of a young boy, "Build Me a Temple and I will help those who help you." Mother Angelica had purchased property in North Alabama intending to build a monastery, chapel and farm to supply food to make the monastery self-sufficient.
After coming home from the trip, Mother Angelica shared this story with the nuns. The nuns had no money to build, but begin to pray putting their trust in the Divine Providence of God. God inspired five families to financially assist with the building of the Shrine, each requesting their donations remain anonymous. And, the Child Jesus kept His promise to "help those who help you."
Mother Mary Angelica, PCPA, founded the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA) in 1987 to preach and teach the Catholic faith using modern means of communication. The friars focus their attention on celebrating the liturgy on EWTN television and radio, leading spiritual retreats for visitors to EWTN and the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament (Mother Angelica's new monastery), and providing for the spiritual needs of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration and EWTN employees.