The first time I met Mother Angelica was in January 1995 on Tuesday evening in the network’s studio. I think it was January 17th. Counting backward, I arrived to visit our Community to discern my vocation on a Saturday before that; the following morning was the Sunday Mass which I assisted for the first time with the Friars and the Nuns in the EWTN chapel as it is known today; the following Monday was the Feast of the Franciscan Protomartyrs, St. Berard and Companions; and that feast day falls on January 16th. Mother had her live shows every Tuesday and Wednesday evening; the Tuesday shows used to be known as family night which had no guests typically except Mother alone sitting on her chair with her Bible speaking to her audience in the studio and through the airwaves; and the Wednesday shows typically had guests interviewed by Mother. Even though Mother typically didn’t have any guests on Tuesday night, Fr. Mitch Pacwa was invited to be her guest that night and he’s considered to be one of the closest friends of Mother and the network.
I was sitting on one of the chairs in the studio along with many other pilgrims waiting for Mother to walk in. Mother eventually walked into the studio and met so many people there. Some she greeted them simply and shook their hands and some struck a very brief conversation with her. And she always tried to meet everyone in the studio before or after her shows.
I had the opportunity to have a brief conversation with her that evening before she got onto the stage for her live show. I introduced myself and told her that I was visiting the Brothers to discern for my vocation and asked for her prayers. At this time, I can’t remember if she said anything to me; I think she said nothing except giving me her warm smile.
The following Wednesday evening I attended her live show as well where Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz was to be interviewed by Mother. He was the Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska at the time; and he too was one of the closest friends of Mother and the network. Their conversation that evening was “Vocation & Suffering”. Like the previous night, once Mother walked into the studio she began to meet and greet and shook people’s hands; some conversed briefly and some simply shook their hands and showed their affection for her. This time it was almost impossible for me to shake Mother’s hands or converse briefly due to where I was sitting in the audience and I had no expectation to speak to her again due to so many pilgrims wanting to speak with her and shake her hands at least. To my surprise, however, she walked toward my direction and despite the many people between me and her, she shouted her question out loud to me: “So! Did you make your decision yet?” I told her: “Not yet, Mother.” Then, she walked away toward the stage since the time was ticking for the show to begin airing live.
It was after this Wednesday evening live show with Bishop Bruskewitz that I made my decision in the Brothers’ chapel and told the Lord that I’d follow Him if the door would be open for me to join. On March 25, 1997 – I entered the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, Community founded by Mother Angelica on May 2nd, 1987 .
As I reflect on this experience, I was only one of so many people she met that Tuesday and Wednesday evening; yet, I was blessed and very surprised that she asked her question to me about what I had asked her the night before: to pray for me and for my discernment in my vocation. I’m grateful and blessed not only to have that brief yet precious moment with Mother but also to be one of her spiritual sons.
Mother, thank you for your prayers. I’ve made my decision because you helped me through your prayers. I pray you’re with the Lord already by this time and praying for us all. Should you need my poor prayers for your further purification, I pray for you: Eternal rest grant unto, Mother Angelica, O Lord; and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.