By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Pope Benedict XVI has awarded EWTN founder Mother Mary Angelica and Deacon Bill Steltemeier, chairman of EWTN’s Board of Governors, the Cross of Honor for distinguished service to the Church.
According to a press release issued by EWTN Director of Communications, Michelle Johnson, the medal, officially known as “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” (literally “For the Church and the Pope”), is the highest honor that the Pope can bestow upon laity and religious.
The awards were conferred by Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham on Sunday, Oct. 4, during a brief ceremony at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama.
The award was a “much deserved honor,” said EWTN President Michael P. Warsaw. ”It acknowledges the tremendous faith, hard work and incredible sacrifices that each of them have made throughout the years in founding and building up the Network. Their recognition is also a great honor for EWTN and is a clear sign of the importance of the Network’s mission for the Church and the Pope. We are grateful to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and to Bishop Baker for this honor.”
Mother Mary Angelica, 86, is a Poor Clare Nun of Perpetual Adoration. She came to Alabama in 1961 to found Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale. In 1981, she began Eternal Word Television Network in a garage on the monastery property. In 1999, Mother Angelica relocated the Monastery to the grounds of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama where she continues to reside with her community of Nuns.
Deacon R. William Steltemeier, 80, was a successful Nashville attorney who left his law practice to join Mother Angelica with her fledgling television network. He served as EWTN’s President for many years and continues to serve as Chairman of the Network’s Board of Governors.
In less than 30 years, the EWTN Global Catholic Network has grown into the largest religious media network in the world, currently seen in over 150 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories.
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