Presenting my paper was an amazing experience. I believe that it was a small example of my experience in the course as a whole. For the presentation, I worked hard to compile my entire research project into about ten minutes. When I was giving the presentation, I felt great. It was a combination of working on the paper for months with my public presentation skills. I think the most important part of the experience was presenting to a group of friends and family who I value very much.

I believe that this presentation was the manifestation of my entire experience with the Ramonat seminar. Just like how this presentation was centered on intense preparation and study, this seminar was focused on working hard to create the best product possible. The presentation was focused on putting together the best sources possible. In a similar way, this semester was centered on finding the best sources possible.

In sum, I believe that the Ramonat seminar was an important part of my development as a scholar and a Catholic. I am planning to enter a ministry position next year. This course provided a view of the Catholic Church in America that I believe will provide me with a good outlook to share. How can people grow as Catholics in America without a sense of their background. I believe that this course will be one of the cornerstones of my future.


Update on Revising

Revising this paper has been challenging by rewarding. There have been two huge pieces of feedback that I have been incorporating into my paper. One was stylistic changes. I am often told that I can be very wordy in my writing and it is a challenge to keep my language tightened up. I have been working through all my paragraphs to condense my language. The other piece of advice that I am incorporating is to go into greater detail in certain parts of my paper. For example, I have gone into greater detail on Word Youth Day and why it is important. These details flesh out the paper and make it come more alive

More Revising

The most satisfying part of revising is seeing my paper come together. I have had my ideas on another Angelica for months and I am finally finishing up this paper. It is cool to tweak and fix the grand ideas I had back in October. The most frustrating experience is feeling like there is always more to fix on the paper. It is the curse of writing that there is always something one can improve on. I will get to the point that I will feel confident in this paper to the point that I will hand it in.

At this point in the revising process, I need to continue to flesh out the ideas already in the paper. Once I am able to add detail to these smaller sections, I believe that I will be ready to hand it in.

Revising the Draft

Revising is always my favorite part of writing a paper. When I am able to edit my work, I am able to improve what I have already written. In general, I believe that the process is going well. I used the advice provided by my professors and classmates to create a more ordered paper. For example, discussions with these people gave me that idea that I should focus on Mother Angelica’s disagreements with church hierarchy instead of abortion. I have more concrete examples of Mother Angelica’s view of the clergy than of her opinions on abortion. I would not have reached this conclusion without these conversations.


Moving forward, I will integrate this feedback into my paper. I plan to tidy up the prose in the sections that are already written. I tend to be very wordy in my writing. I will work harder to streamline my work in order for the writing to make sense. I will also go into more detail on World Youth Day 1993. I previously did not explain the background of WYD, and it is essential to understanding Mother Angelica. I will also detail her positions on the religious hierarchy and gender in order to provide a cleaner view of how her views transformed over the 90s. Finally, I will demonstrate how these views manifest in modern EWTN by providing articles that share Mother Angelica’s views.

All of these changes will work towards making my paper a better piece of work.

The First Draft Completed!

Completing the first draft of a substantial piece of work is the most stressful and rewarding thing I believe one can do. This blog post marks the completion of the first draft of my work on Populism, Mother Angelica, and EWTN. I worked on the draft over the course of two weeks. Whenever I could find time, I would sit down and type out a few paragraphs. Some days I would sit for about four hours to work on it. I find it easier in my mind to work over the course of a few hours.

The most rewarding aspect of the project was seeing my ideas come together on a paper. This draft is not close to a finished piece of work, but it is the beginning of seeing the whole picture. For example, I was having trouble articulating the transformation of Mother Angelica’s rhetoric over the nineties before beginning the draft. As I was writing the draft, I was able to comprehend that she became more combative and populist as she grew older. This was a concept that I always knew in my mind, but I was able to put it into words when I was writing the draft.

Me writing this first draft (taken March 2019)

As much as the draft was a relief to write, there are some underlying anxieties that continue to give me stress. First, that I have watched enough of Mother Angelica’s content. EWTN has over 200 of Mother Angelica’s episodes on line for viewing. As an undergraduate with limited time to devote to one research project, I am unable to watch all of these hour long episodes. While I have narrowed my choice of episodes to ones with more controversial themes, I am worried that I might miss interesting content in episodes with more banal themes. For example, what if Mother Angelica gave an intense rant against abortion in her episode on the “Anima Christi” prayer. I skipped this episode due to its focus on a niche Catholic topic. I recognize that every researcher might accidentally overlook important sources, but it is always something in my mind.

I believe that every piece of writing can always be improved on. Everything in this project can be better. If I was going to focus on a more specific topic, I would say that I can improve my treatment of the history of populism in America. It is a large topic that has been studied by many different scholars. Due to the large numbers of studies on it, I can not read every book or article on populism. I do believe that I can improve on the material I already read and provide a general view into Catholic and religious populism in the United States.

In the last month of school, I look forward to improving this project.


Troubles and Successes in Research

Starting my research project, There have been very rewarding and very stressful parts of this project. At the moment, the project will look at how the American populist tradition manifests in the work of Mother Angelica and the Eternal Word Television Network. Her rhetoric and populist tendencies manifests in the Modern day in online media outlets like Church Militant and Life Site News.


The most rewarding part of this project is seeing the project come together.  When I detect connections between the American populist tradition, the work of Mother Angelica, and modern conservative Catholic media, I felt an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. My project began with me watching a few episodes of Mother Angelica live and reading articles by contemporary media outlets. After watching multiple episodes, I began to see the project coming into focus. I understand research projects to be the process of connecting smaller pieces into a larger argument. I am beginning to see the smaller pieces coming together.

The most frustrating part of my project is not knowing when to stop reading and start writing. I have about seven books and five books that I have yet to read, and I always feel that I do not have enough information to write. The specific topic that I am lacking information on is the history of populism. I know by the final paper, I will have a thorough knowledge of these topics, but I do not feel like I am there at the moment.

My ideas are evolving as I watch and read more about Mother Angelica’s life. When I began to write about Mother Angelica I was only looking at her within the context and her show. After reading more articles from contemporary far right sources, I have began to connect modern Catholic media with the work of Mother Angelica. In other words, I am beginning to place Mother Angelica into more of a context. There were people inspired and influenced by her work.

Mother Angelica

Professor Winling’s presentation gave me some ideas for my project. His focus on the voting habits of individuals in Chicago brought to my minds the audience that media is for. Mother Angelica’s show was written with an audience in mind. Her use of populist rhetoric was geared towards the “average Catholic” who needed to be defended by liberal theologians and misguided bishops. While not the same thing as an average Chicagoan voting in an election, my project deals on some level with the ways larger institutions interact with people on the ground.

Electoral Map of 2019 Chicago Election

My project is coming along nicely and I am excited to see where it goes.

Starting Research

My blog for this week contains various aspects of my research. The first piece some of my notes on a book that I read, Messengers of the Right by Nicole Hemmer. My note taking method mostly consists of underlining important information and writing how the information relates to the larger topic I am studying. In the margins below, I wrote that the author’s discussion of the apolitical nature of religious programming in the 1950’s might relate to EWTN.

Scan of notes

The second piece of this blog is a primary source. Since my project centers on media and the life of Mother Angelica, I believe that it is fitting to share a clip form her show. The first six minutes of this episode on Just Wages, provides an interesting view into Mother Angelica’s worldview. She opens the episode by telling a story about a businessman who demanded kickback from Mother Angelica’s order in order to sell their peanuts. She then goes into a speech that sounds like a criticism of modern capitalism! Almost immediately after, Mother Angelica goes on to criticize the concept of social justice. This clip shows that Mother Angelica was more complicated then one might believe.

The third part of this blog is an outline of an academic article on the Office of Price Reductions that I read. I broke it down by the pieces I felt are essential for a good piece of writing.

  • Introduction
  • Historicalization (placing the OPA into its historical context)
  • The origins of the phenomena being studied (how did the OPA get started?)
  • Introduce important figures in the movement (the first head of the OPA)
  • The various policies of the OPA (the main content of the article)
  • The OPA’s influence on women and people of color (impact of the phenomena being studied)
  • The OPA’s struggle with the meat packing industry and its demise
  • Conclusion

The article on the OPA is different than other papers that I wrote in that it uses a wider grouping of sources. The paper I will write on EWTN will include many articles and primary sources that I will have to piece together to create a coherent story. This specific paper on the OPA is useful because it shows the importance of placing your object of study within its historical context. By doing this, the reader is able to better appreciate the complexities of its history. The second lesson from this article is that one has to form a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. While this seems common sense when writing history, one can easily tell a confused mix of facts on the topic one is studying. For my project, I will attempt to tell a coherent story on EWTN and Catholic broadcasters.

The research for this project is beginning to make sense and I am excited to see where it goes.

Mother Angelica and Five Questions

In my last blog, I discussed EWTN and its foundress in general terms. After some reflection, I decided to focus clearly on the life of Mother Angelica in the context of the development of Conservative and religious media. Mentioned in my last post, Mother Angelica formed Eternal Word Television Network in her monastery’s garage. Since its founding, it has become the mouthpiece for conservative Catholics throughout the nation. Mother Angelica hosted a long running show where she discussed various Catholic theological issues.  As a widely recognized figure who has not be thoroughly studied, I believe that her life will be an interesting topic to discuss. The foundation of any good research project is a good research question. To move closer to this goal, I will share five questions I have for this project.

  1. What is the history of women in conservative media and how does Mother Angelica fit into it?

In the book I read a few weeks ago, Messengers of the Right, men dominated the conversation. While there were some women who worked with conservative media activists such as Phyllis Schlafly, the movers and shakers of the movement were men. In the contemporary period, we have many women conservative media personalities such as Anne Coulter. She is one of the most widely known and listened to media personalities. In the span of fifty years, women went from having a limited role in media to being heavily featured. I believe that Mother Angelica played a role in this transformation. This project can uncover this role

Anne Coulter

2. What is the role of religious television and how does Mother Angelica and EWTN fit into it?

American media is filled with religious programming. While Mother Angelica created the largest Catholic television channel, there are numerous other programs for Protestants and other faith traditions. It will be useful to place Mother Angelica’s endeavor within the broader context of religious television and media. These other programs can function as a way to contrast Mother Angelica’s work with other work at the time. Was EWTN more or less political than other religious channels? I can also contextualize EWTN’s programming in its context as religious programming.

3. What is the history of Catholic media in the United States and how does Mother Angelica and EWTN fit into it?

I am generally aware of famous Catholic media figures such as Bishop Fulton Sheen and Father Coughlin who commanded large audiences in the 30’s and 50’s respectively. There is a history of Catholic figures being media personalities. One can read Mother Angelica’s stardom within this context. While these two figures are the most famous, there must have been other radio shows, programming, literature meant for a Catholic audience throughout American history. By learning more about these sources, I will be able to place EWTN and Mother Angelica properly within Catholic history

Fulton Sheen, who had one of the most popular shows of the 1950’s

4. How much of a role did Mother Angelica have in creating EWTN?

Modern EWTN uses Mother Angelica almost as a patron saint. They air reruns of her show and she is featured prominently on their website.  While Mother Angelica might have had an important role in the channel’s founding, she must have had people she worked with. EWTN portrays Mother Angelica as a mythical figure who formed the channel through her own sheer will. I am interested in checking the authenticity of this claim. it would be interesting in learning the different important characters in the creation of EWTN.

5. How political was EWTN’s programming?

I categorize EWTN as conservative because they discuss topics that conservatives focus on such as pro-life activities. Modern EWTN has a news show and other such programming. Was the channel always so political? When Mother Angelica formed the channel was it dedicated to televising mass and discussing theological topics like the sacraments? If the channel was not overtly political, when did they begin discussing political topics. These questions open up wider questions regarding the politicization of topics. Why do religious programs choose to discuss specific issues or political topics?

A portrait of Mother Angelica

These questions provide many avenues to explore this topic. While I may have avenues, I need a vehicle. The sources that will take me down these avenues will come from a variety of sources. There are online archives of her show from 1991 to its end in 2002. While this archive does not have the episodes from 1983-1990, I believe that they will provide many opportunities to see Mother Angelica’s show. I will also use Loyola’s newspaper archives to see how the channel evolved in the public eye. I have recently sent an e-mail out to EWTN to inquire about the papers of Mother Angelica and other episodes of her show not online. While I have not received an answer yet, I am looking forward to a response. I will also use a variety of academic books and articles to place Mother Angelica into historical context.

I believe that this project is on a good track and will be very fruitful.

Catholic Television and Conservative Politics

A few weeks before the 2016 election, Donald J. Trump sat for a fifteen minute interview with Raymond Arroyo on the Eternal Word Television Network’s (EWTN) news show; The World Over. The conversation covered topics common in interviews of the time such as religious liberty and Trump’s controversial comments about women. The main difference is that EWTN is one of the largest Catholic media companies in the United States and Arroyo asked Trump about his prayer life and his favorite saint. Why was EWTN so important that they scored an interview with the Republican candidate for the presidency?

EWTN Trump Interview

Mirroring the political dimensions of mainstream media sources such as Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, Catholic media can be broadly separated into “liberal” and “conservative” camps. While these are not hard categories, certain outlets tend to drift towards certain viewpoints. The focus of my research project, EWTN, can be generally characterized as conservative. Their website hosts a page on Pro-life issues and they sponger a show called Pro-Life Weekly. The channel was also the plaintiff in a recent court case over whether EWTN needed to provide contraceptives in their insurance plan. Many of these issues are very important to Catholics who may lean right of center. EWTN provides an outlet for those Catholics to hear talks, news and other programs on these issues.

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Mother Angelica of the Annunciation

The story of EWTN is remarkable. The channel was started in 1981 in the garage in the Monastery of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration in Hanceville Alabama by Mother Angelica of the Annunciation (1923-2016). Arguably one of the most iconic and recognizable figures for Catholics in the United States, Mother Angelica hosted a weekly show for years on her network. While mostly centered on religious topics such as the love of God and the importance of certain prayers for the faithful, she was not afraid to discuss political issues such as abortion. She passed away on Easter Sunday in 2016 which many Catholics saw as significant.  In 30 years, a nun was able to create one of the most watched religious stations in the country.

For my Ramonat Seminar research project, I will be researching the history of EWTN, Mother Angelica, and its relationship with the conservative movement. While I do not have a specific research question at the moment, I believe that there are many interesting ways the project can go. I can look at EWTN in relation to American Protestant Televangelists. While Mother Angelica’s show was geared toward faithful Catholics looking to deepen their own faith, one can see similarities with Protestant Christian programming. I can study EWTN as an outgrowth of conservative media. While  this might not be a fair assessment in that EWTN hosted non-political content such as mass, the channel, it is important to note that the channel’s programs do have a slight political bent.

I am interested in this project for two reasons. First, I have been familiar with EWTN for while and am interested in its history. From my lived experience, I know that EWTN is very influential in the lives of Catholics around the world. Most Catholics I know either watches the programs, is aware of it, or knows someone who watches it. The image of Mother Angelica speaking on her show is well known to American Catholics. With EWTN being a behemoth on the American Catholic Scene, I am interested in learning more about it. My second reason is that I am very interested in news outlets and its intersection with politics. News outlets provide a way for people to learn about issues facing their country. These issues become tinged with the biases of the outlet one watches. I am interested in how a conservative Catholic perspective might influence issues.


To prepare for this semester’s research, I began reading Nicole Hemmer’s Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics. Hemmer’s thoroughly researched book traces the history of American conservative media from World War II to the present day. While focusing on secular political outlets, the book provided me with a general outline of the issues conservative media outlets focused on throughout the 20th century. Though the book, I also discovered that cable television programming became popular around the same time as EWTN.

This project is in its early stages. While I find something intellectually attractive in studying EWTN, I am not afraid to look at other Catholic media figures. EWTN is centered in Alabama which might create a logistical challenge in finding sources. If this project becomes unfeasible, other topics of study might be Bishop Fulton Sheen and the 1930’s fascist leaning radio preacher Charles Coughlin. As with any project, I have my research routes open.

I am excited for this semester and the opportunity to critically analyze the development of conservative leaning Catholic media.

A still from Mother Angelica’s Show

Maximizing Happiness – Inquiring Nuns and the Social Good

I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. – John 16:33

A Common theme throughout this semester’s portion of the Ramonat seminar is the various social programs and social goods that the Church provided to the American people. James Gilbert describes these social benefits in his article “Twin Cities/Two Chicagos: Religious Confrontation between 1880-1920” when he writes about the creation of the Guardian Angel Mission. The Mission was a settlement house created as a Catholic alternative to the more Protestant influenced organizations. I understand a “social good to be a boon given to the public or a member of the public that increases the quality of his or her life. I believe that the 1968 film Inquiring Nuns portrays Roman Catholic nuns providing a very different variety of social good; happiness.

The film centers on two nuns from the south side of Chicago traveling around the city asking people a very simple question: Are You Happy. The answers that the Nuns received were wide ranging. One man attempted to compartmentalize his happiness in that he was “happy” with his family and personal life, but unhappy in his career. Another man questioned the existence of happiness as a concept and opted to focus on “joy” which is much rarer in life. Another startling answer was from a woman in the Art Institute of Chicago who answered the question with tears in her eyes and sorrow in her heart.

I believe that the interview with the sad woman best encapsulates the “social good” the nuns were bringing. On the outset of the interview, the woman was visibly sad and shaken. As the nuns talked with her about her conceptions of happiness, I believe I saw the woman seem less distressed. It was as if by talking about the concept of happiness and what would make her hypothetically more happy created a space where the woman could actually be happy. By talking about happiness with people, the nuns were bringing “social good” of happiness to the people of 1968 Chicago.

Mentioned above, the Nun’s giving the social good of happiness to the people of Chicago is part of a long tradition of the Catholic Church working to bring hope to the destitute or downtrodden. Scholars of covered this topic extensively. For example, Elizabeth and Ken Fones-Wolf described the role that Catholics had in creating unions for the poorest immigrants. William Issel and Mary Anne Wold wrote a detailed account of the Catholic role in the racial justice campaign in San Francisco. Throughout the 20th century, the Roman  Catholic church worked to overcome barriers and to raise the destitute to a proper standard of living. kq-inqnun.jpg

Can we categorize the Nuns’ interviews in Inquiring Nuns into the same category as fighting racial injustice or unionizing workers? I believe you can because recognizing one’s happiness in life is essential to living a good life. Just as one can not live to their fullest when they are chained by racial bias or under wage slavery, one can not live fuller if they are miserable all the time. This is especially true in 1968 when the film was released. With the lost of traditional elements of society such as very strict gender roles, peoples’ worldviews were shaken. America was also facing a challenging political environment with demonstrations occurring regularly and an unpopular war being fought in Vietnam. In those hard times, I believe that nuns working to help people find their happiness can be categorized as a “good”

The Catholic Church has been a source of social goods  for the poor of America. The various readings throughout the Ramonat seminar has made that apparent. I sincerely believe that the work of the Nuns in Inquiring Nuns is a continuation of that proud American Catholic tradition.



Justice in an Unjust World – Catholics and Social Issues in the 20th century

Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs? He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me. And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25: 44-46

The beginning of the 20th century saw a new Catholic interest in “social problems” such as unfair wages, homelessness, unemployment. I believe that there are two constant approaches towards social issues which characterize the Catholic approach to social issues in the 20th century. First was a preferential option for the poor. A foundation of Catholic social teaching, it was always the beginning and the end of Catholic approaches to social issues. The second is a tendency to criticize the unjust structures it sees around it. The Catholic Church would be inherently political by attempting to bring justice to the unjust world surrounding it.

In his chapter on the social question. John McGreevy discusses the development of Rerum Novarum which laid out the Catholic Church’s vision of economic development. Priests of that era were not afraid to wade into political waters For example, Father John A. Ryan (1865-1944) who was a professor at the Catholic University of America strongly advocated for a living wage for men and moderating hours for women and children. He put these ideas into a document released by the USCCB for reconstruction after World War I. In other words, Father Ryan attempted to place his economic ideas into policy by espousing them in a formal capacity. These ideas might have seen controversial to some politicians, but Father Ryan was attempting to right an injustice he saw in the world. These policies also were meant for the poor of society. These policy ideas would be for the working class and assist them in living a more comfortable meaningful life. Father Ryan was working within the Catholic framework of working for the poor.

Father John A. Ryan

John A. Ryan’s work had lasting political impact. Harold Meyerson writes in is article “God and the New Deal” that “Ryan’s labor Catholicism probably claimed the allegiance of several million adherents during the New Deal years.” The people who read and believed in Ryan’s work were the people who supported Roosevelt’s social programs. Once again one finds the work of Catholics being political. By influencing supporters of the New Deal, Father Ryan’s work was affecting the political history and policies of America. These programs also were meant to provide a safety net for less fortunate sections of America which sits in line with Catholic ideas of supporting the poor.

Catholic social programs also had to compete against other institutions. For example, Catholics in Chicago formed the Catholic Youth Organization in response to the YMCA and the Guardian Angel Mission in response to social settlement houses like Hull House. These struggles are outlined in James Gillbert’s article “Two Cities/Two Chicagos”. While not political in the sense that these organizations were lobbying local political authorities, they were political in that they were challenging the traditional religious establishment. These various organizations had to combat the bias and fears of the local Protestant and secular institutions. While Catholics had to combat other organizations , they never forgot their foundation; the poor. They were still able to fight and work for the dejected in Chicago.

A Nun with Children working for Catholic Charities

“The Social Question” does not only include labor issues, but also includes problems of racial discrimination. In his article “Resistance in the Urban North”, Arnold Hirsch documents the history of African Americans moving into the Chicago neighborhood of South Deering in the 50’s and 60’s. Families such as the Howards faced daily discrimination and violence by their white neighbors. The Catholic response to such racial discrimination has two responses. On the parish level, Catholic Churches invited African American Catholics to mass. Hirsch’s article uses the example of Saint Kevin’s Catholic Church in Chicago. While these invitations sometimes ended in violence against African Americans attending mass, such as those who attended St. Kevin’s, I believe that one can read these invitations as a Catholic attempt to right an injustice. There were also Catholic attempts to fight discrimination on the institutional level such as the Catholic Interracial Council which saw integration of Catholic Churches as essential to destroy racial bias in America. These two approaches were political in that they challenged local governments and communities to recognize the human dignity of African Americans in community. While many  communities were not willing to accept African Americans, these Catholic communities challenged these ignorant ideas. The Catholic crusade against racial intolerance also placed those suffering the most in society first. The Catholic Church took the side of those who were spit on and attacked by white America. They were following the central tenant of Catholic social teaching; care for those who are rejected from society.

Members of the Catholic Interracial Council pose together for a photo

Catholic concern for social justice issues extends to the modern day. Searching through Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Social Justice archive, I found a letter written by the project director and associate director of Chicago’s 8th Day Center for Justice on a survey of homelessness in Chicago. The 8th Day Center was a center that advocated for a variety of issues ranging from women’s issues to homelessness. It is still in operation in some capacities today, but it was slated to close in the summer of 2018. The letter from June 1982, continues the two characteristics of Catholic approaches to social issues outlined above. The letter shows a concern for the poor by describing in detail the struggles that those experiencing homelessness go through. The authors describe society’s forgotten as finding shelter in abandoned cars and searching for food in dumpsters. The authors bring special attention to that these people are rejected by society. The two directors are also not afraid to enter the political realm. They criticize the local government for not having enough shelters and focusing on the new poor. In the eyes of the authors, the focus on the new poor leaves the long term homeless forgotten. The directors take the step to criticize national politics by targeting Ronald Reagan’s economic policies. They write “In the grim supply-side practice of trickle down compassion, precious little now trickles down to the crassly labeled. ‘deserving poor.’ The street people get less”. One can understand their statement as a direct attack on the mainstream economic outlook of the era.

In sum, the Catholic Church in America has not been afraid to become political and fight for those deemed as outsiders by society. From Father Ryan’s economic policies to the Eight Day Center’s commentary on Reaganomics, the Catholic Church has sought to work towards justice.

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A recent photo of the 8th Day Center marching for justice