Large crowd attends funeral mass for Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN Global Catholic Network

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The funeral procession with Mother Angelica's casket, around the Piazza outside the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. (Photo: Gregg Stone/WHNT News 19)

The funeral procession with Mother Angelica’s casket, around the Piazza outside the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. (Photo: Gregg Stone/WHNT News 19)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – On Friday, mourners attended the funeral mass for Mother Mary Angelica, a beautiful event at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Cullman County.

The Roman Catholic nun was known to millions around the world as Mother Angelica, who founded EWTN Global Catholic Network.

She was remembered for her loving nature and common sense approach to challenges.

About 2,000 people attended the mass, including bishops and clergy from around the world.  Admission to the upper church was by invitation only, but a large crowd gathered in the Shrine's Piazza to watch the funeral on large screens.  They were also given holy communion.

People came to pay respects from Poland and Nigeria, Huntsville and Memphis, pushing strollers and aided by canes.

"It's a day of rejoicing, that God has called her home," said Ramon Quinene of Milford, Delaware. "It's a day of mourning, but moreso, of rejoicing that that the Lord has said it's time for you to come home. You've been a good and faithful servant."

Eugene Worobec and his family emigrated from Poland 20 years ago. He said Mother Angelica lived with them, because her program was on in the house every day.

"She passed away on Easter Sunday, so that means something. My parents, my brother pass, you know, 20 years ago on Christmas Eve and someone told me it's to be born for Heaven, so I will say that's the same thing," Worobec said.

Joyce Fecteau of Huntsville said she began coming to the shrine site when they were still digging holes. She cried for Mother Angelica, she said, but after mass Thursday night, she felt joy that she'd made it to heaven.

"She's a phenomenon, there's no doubt," said Fecteau. "I saw her in a garage, broadcasting from a garage with one camera, with a mud puddle in the front. This is a God thing, she couldn't have done this, this is a God thing."

After the mass, a procession carried Mother Angelica's casket through the Shrine's Piazza and into the crypt.

This ends a week of special events memorializing Mother Angelica.  She was born Rita Rizzo in Canton, Ohio, in 1923. Her television ministry began in the monastery's garage and grew into a worldwide religious broadcasting network.

-With help from the Associated Press