CANTON —Jan. 2, 1947, was buffeted by a blizzard, but the weather was of no consequence for Rita Marie Rizzo.
Her new home, the stately John O’Dea mansion at 4200 Market Ave. N, was less than 10 miles away from her beginnings in southeast Canton, but it might as well have been on another planet.
Robed in simple black and a white veil crowned with thorns, the 23-year-old, now called Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, repeated the vows spoken by Bishop James A. McFadden, and became one of the first Franciscan nuns of the Blessed Sacrament at the new Sancta Clara Monastery.
She had no way of knowing she later would leave Stark County and become world-famous by way of a medium still in its infancy in 1947.
On Saturday and Sunday, Catholics from around the country will converge on the Memorial Civic Center at 1101 Market Ave. N to celebrate the life and ministry of Mother Angelica, founder of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, the world’s largest Catholic media outlet. At least four hotels have been sold out thanks to the event.
Perhaps only Lucille Ball has logged more airtime than Mother Angelica, who launched EWTN in Birmingham in 1981 as the world’s first Catholic cable outlet, and hosted several of its programs.
“Aside from her religion, she is one of these amazing historic figures,” said Raymond Arroyo, Mother Angelica’s biographer and news director at EWTN. “People forget about Mother Angelica being the only woman to found and lead a major cable television network for 20 years.”
The first denominational network licensed by the FCC, EWTN operates a radio network and nine television outlets around the world. Mother Angelica resigned from day-to day operations of EWTN in 2001 following a serious stroke but reruns continue to this day. EWTN airs on Channel 50 on Time Warner Cable in Canton and Channel 91 on Massillon Cable...