Run, Mother, run

The story of Mother Angelica's visit to Peoria from the front page of the March 31, 1985, edition of The Catholic Post.

When Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday, March 27, we searched our files for a time the foundress of the Eternal Word Television Network visited the Diocese of Peoria. It turned out to be 31 years ago almost to the day.

It wasn’t Easter that brought Mother Angelica, then a 61-year-old dynamo, to Peoria on March 25, 1985. It was the local Easter Seals Telethon prayer breakfast. She was the featured speaker.

Along with those around the globe impacted by Mother Angelica’s amazing ministry and faith, we pray that a wish she described to her Peoria audience that morning has come true, or is well on its way to happening.

According to our front page story, after beginning her talk with light repartee, Mother Angelica got serious about the “specialness” of persons with handicaps and the rewards that await them in the Kingdom where there are no handicaps.

Mother Angelica shared with her early morning audience that she wore a leg brace, and that an aching back disrupted her sleep. She had a heart condition for which she took medication.

Then she added: “When I get to the Kingdom, the first thing I want to do is run through the halls.”

Can’t you picture the joy of that run? We imagine Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the venerable media pioneer from the Diocese of Peoria, cheering her on and then swapping stories about believing the impossible and doing the incredible through trust in God.

Later that spring day back in 1985, Mother Angelica enjoyed an informal lunch with Albina Aspell, then editor of The Catholic Post. She described her typical day as beginning at 4:30 a.m. with prayer. In fact, the sisters of her community — the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration — spend five hours a day in prayer.

That evening she took part in a call-in telecast on a Peoria cable channel. This time, she was the guest and the host was Father Marne Breckensiek, OFM, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Peoria.

While Mother Angelica runs in heaven, her wisdom will surely re-run on EWTN for years to come. We end by repeating a call to “basic spirituality” she shared with readers of The Catholic Post 31 years ago, but a challenge that sounds very 2016.

“We have missed the opportunity,” she said. “We condemn people, we judge rashly, we hate our enemies. Basic spirituality is what the world needs; we have to be brave enough to live the Gospel. . . .”

Mother Angelica’s life was a witness to what God can do with such bravery. Enjoy that run, Mother. — Thomas J. Dermody


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