When Jim and Cheryl Manfredonia were beginning their personal journey of trying to bring a Catholic radio station to the northeast, the touch of Mother Angelica’s hand helped encourage them on their way. Last week in Hanceville, Ala., they again touched Mother Angelica’s hands, this time as a fond farewell to the Poor Clare nun who became a media titan and an inspiration to many – including them.
“From the time she began EWTN in 1981, she has really been a leader in the Church, not just in this country but around the world,” said Jim Manfredonia, who co-founded Domestic Church Media with Cheryl in 2003. “Through the network and in many ways, she [brought] the faith to people to may never have encountered the faith or the Church in any other way.”
Because Domestic Church Media, which broadcasts at 1260 AM in Trenton and 89.3 FM in Freehold, is an affiliate of EWTN, the Manfredonias were invited by the network’s leadership to attend the funeral at the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, outside of Birmingham, Ala.
They drove the 1,800 miles to and from Alabama out of a desire to show their respect for “a great woman,” said Cheryl.
“Mother is an inspiration for us, especially for women,” she said. “She’s a model woman devoted to Christ, and her job was to lead others to Christ, just like the Blessed Mother, in a humble way, in service. And the fact that she built this empire from absolutely nothing just gives us the inspiration that no matter what difficulties we come across in life, nothing is impossible with God.” “Mother is the one who kind of set the bar for all of us,” said Jim. “Her legacy continues.” The Manfredonias first met Mother Angelica in 1996, when their involvement in Catholic media consisted solely of trying to get their local cable TV provider to carry EWTN. Two years later, Jim Manfredonia drove to Alabama “on a whim” to talk to Mother Angelica about his family’s hopes to start a Catholic radio station in the Garden State.
“I told her of my interest to bring Catholic radio to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, [and] New York, and she held my hands and said ‘pray to Our Lady, she’ll help you.’ And that was really the beginning,” Jim said.
When they arrived at the Shrine for Mother Angelica’s funeral, they had the opportunity to pay their respects as she lay in repose. Once again, for the last time, he reached out and touched Mother Angelica’s hands.
“That was a special moment for me,” Jim said. “It was kind of a continuation of the mission she gave to us to bring Catholic radio to the area.”
The funeral itself was “reverent, somber in a way, yet also rejoicing as we know she’ll be a great help to us from heaven,” Cheryl said. “What really came across to me...was how much she really loved Our Lord and how she wanted the world to know how much he really loves all of us.”