Catholics travel to pay respects to Mother Angelica

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HANCEVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament is not a place that you would just stumble upon - it's in the middle of rural Cullman County. Yet, dozens of individuals made the trek all the way out there Monday, just because of the legacy Mother Angelica leaves behind.

Born Rita Antoinette Rizzo, Mother Angelica passed away Easter Sunday due to complications from a stroke she suffered in 2001.

"I watch her do the rosary everyday," says John Caporaso. "It's what stays with me." Caporaso and his wife drove all the way from New Jersey to visit the EWTN studios in Irondale, and to the shrine that she built. “She’s just not so straightforward. She’s not so by-the-book. She speaks on her own, it was interesting to watch her," he says.

Marc Hawk and his family also made the pilgrimage, but for a different reason. He says watching Mother Angelica's show inspired him to help develop a Catholic Radio network in Ohio.  “God’s been working in our lives… and in our family," he says.

His hope was to get to the shrine before Mother's passing, but now that she has, he is reorganizing their trip to include time to attend her funeral mass Friday. He believes he and his family will be witnessing history. “Mother Angelica is the greatest saint of my day and as I tell my kids, 'this is going to be a place you always remember because I have no doubt she will be canonized as a saint,'" says Hawk.

When the monastery was being planned, Mother Angelica says she had no clue how she would fund it. That's when five families stepped in and made her dreams become a reality. Marc says that same blind faith is what led him to religious radio. “Don’t feel like you have to know how, because I’m not a radio guy and I was never involved in it. Looking back, I realize how God was guiding me every step of the way," he says.

Between her television work and the many books that she published, thousands are expected to travel to this area in the coming days, which means if you intend on going as well, you need to have a plan in place.

A list of public events, honoring Mother Angelica can be found here.