With all of the hullaballoo surrounding the passing of Mother Angelica, it’s easy to miss the people closest to her — her Alabama neighbors. Here’s some commentary by one of them, Regina writer Ginger Quick, on watching the body of Mother Angelica being brought to the Shrine she built in the heart of the Deep South of America.
When we arrived at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL — home of Mother’s nuns as well as the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, the Franciscan Order of brothers which she founded — people were just quietly waiting. Not much talking at all, but people were smiling and happy.
The weather was unbelievable. About 70 degrees. Very sunny and slightly breezy, it could not have been more gorgeous. The sky at the Shrine is always stunning with a wide open view to the sky.
The procession emerged from Shrine; the local paper is reporting hundreds were there, but it seemed so intimate and not crowded at all. I really feel like there were maybe 100 there. Not just local people either; I read from as far way as New Jersey, Illinois, Louisiana and Georgia.
Law enforcement is ramping up, expecting huge increases in traffic over the next couple of days leading up to her funeral Mass, which is by invitation only. Anyone can come and stand on the piazza to pay their respects however. They are setting up port-a-potties, first aid stations, big media stands. It appears they are really bracing themselves for many people to attend the funeral, as well as the public viewings, which begin within the hour.
I won’t be attending those for concern of getting stuck in crowds with my little boys. All of this will be live on EWTN, I believe, so I will watch from home. My boys didn’t completely understand what was happening. The day after Mother Angelica died, I told them she had gone to heaven to be with Jesus. Now they know who she is, we are big fans in our home. We listen to re-runs of all of her shows. The Shrine is a place we go at least once or twice a month; it’s just ten minutes from our house. They know Mother built that Shrine where we spend so much time. I didn’t expect much understanding from them, but my eldest son’s face just went blank. He went silent (which never happens). I was afraid I had scared him and asked if he was OK. His voice trembled, “I’m just in shock, Mommy…(pause)…I’m just shocked.” I explained she was where she most wanted to be, with Jesus and it was OK, and it didn’t take him long to be OK with that. They have never had anyone die that they know, so I believe Mother Angelica is going to say many prayers for them over their lifetime. I have certainly asked her to.
The priest was Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, of EWTN. He is a frequent homilist there and presides over all the healing processions they have there. The next one will be in May, I believe, for Our Lady of Fatima. These processions usually have around 300 people. I expect that might begin to increase as possible canonization process begins. I don’t know, it certainly seems a possibility doesn’t it?
A few minutes before three, we saw a cloud of incense, and they begin processing from the church towards us. It got totally silent as people began noticing them. You could hear cameras clicking, the sound of professional cameras.
All the children there were so well behaved, and they seemed to understand the magnitude of what was going on. Or at least they felt the solemn gravity of the event.
They processed to the parking lot and everyone just lined up. The girls with mantillas began putting them on. Everyone processed into the shrine’s upper church, where the Divine Mercy Chaplet was prayed.
She was carried to the statue of the Divine Christ Child Jesus, which meant so much to her and there was a long pause there before everyone went inside the church. Heavy with sadness, everybody seemed during those moments.
People were solemn, peaceful– like they were in the presence of a saint, is what came to my mind. So reverent. No sobbing, a few sniffles and whispered prayers…unintelligible, but I could tell that’s what people were doing.
It just felt like we were really a part of something historic and powerful. I can’t describe it adequately. Mother Angelica means so much to the Catholics in this area. This is the south. The Catholic population is really small, but here is this place in the middle of nowhere, where we live, where these amazing things are unfolding. It’s exciting. The whole existence of the Shrine here, is miraculous itself!
I just this second asked my son if he would like to say anything for a magazine article regarding Mother. “I love you, Mother Angelica,” he said, and ran off.