On May 8, 1962, Mother Angelica, Sister Raphael, Sister Joseph, Sister Michael and Sister Assumpta, the founding sisters of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, left Sancta Clara Monastery in Canton, Ohio for the new foundation in Alabama.
Mother Angelica’s inspiration to build a monastery in the South took shape when Archbishop Toolen of Mobile extended his invitation, “Ya’ll come!”
The Sisters collaborated on an unusual fund raising project, “St. Peter’s Fishing Lures,” before the move to Alabama.
On May 20, 1962, Our Lady of the Angels Monastery was dedicated by Archbishop Toolen. Mother Angelica and the founding sisters took up residence in the monastery, inaugurating our life of prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament here in the South. Mother Angelica’s mother, Mae Francis, entered as an extern postulant on the same day. A few months later, Sister Veronica, formerly the abbess of Sancta Clara Monastery transferred to the fledgling community. Mother and the Nuns were received by the people of Birmingham with great love and tremendous support.
Visitors began to come to OLAM, evidently drawn to the quiet Presence in the chapel.
In 1972, almost a decade after the founding of the monastery, Mother Angelica’s charisma and gift of teaching unfolded even more when she began to write her “Mini Books.” The first of many books was Journey into Prayer. The Sisters printed, packaged and shipped these works by the thousands.
After many leaps of faith, Mother Angelica launched Eternal Word Television Network on August 15, 1981 at 6:00 PM. It was a day of great rejoicing for the community. It was hardly foreseeable that this new missionary endeavor, which had begun in the OLAM garage with only $200, would become the great media apostolate that it is today.
The Nuns supported the network from the beginning, taking calls at the telethons, giving tours to visitors, opening mail, printing programs, and most of all, praying for the work God had surprisingly entrusted to these cloistered nuns!
A rather visible change in the sisters’ life occurred in August 1993. MotherAngelica made a decisive public stand for orthodoxy at the Denver World Youth Day, and announced that the Sisters at OLAM would return to wearing the full traditional habit.
The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we ourselves will be transformed in our turn. We are to become the Body of Christ, his own Flesh and Blood. We all eat the one bread, and this means that we ourselves become one. In this way, adoration becomes union. God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in Him.
-- Pope Benedict XVI
As EWTN continued to expand right up to the doors of the monastery, Mother moved OLAM to rural Hanceville, a quiet area more conducive to contemplative prayer. Aided by the incredible generosity of five families, Mother built the Shrine’s Temple in honor of the Divino Niño and the monastery as the new home of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration.
On December 19, 1999, the Shrine of theMost Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville was consecrated. Fittingly, the Shrine is a place of worship for people of all faiths, offering opportunities for visitors and pilgrims to find peace and rest in the Presence of Our Lord.
On Christmas Eve 2001, Mother Angelica suffered a severe stroke. Although she never fully regained the ability of speech, Mother made an amazing recovery and has kept her sense of humor, suffering heroically these many years.
Beginning in 2002, OLAM sent sisters to help our monastery in Portsmouth, Ohio.Sisters were also sent to aid in reopening our cradle monastery in Troyes, France. Over the past seven years, the community has also made new foundations in Tonopah, Arizona and San Antonio, Texas.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life and the same can be said of the life and vocation of the PCPAs. The Mass is the heart of each day. From it flows our charism of reparative and unremitting thanksgiving, offered to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Privileged with solemn exposition of Our Lord in the monstrance, the Nuns keep a continuous vigil of adoration —twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year— interceding for all who ask for prayer, for EWTN, and for the needs of the world. Our contemplative vocation is a gift of God’s love for theChurch, the world, and us!
Throughout these five decades, every day, at the beginning of each adoration hour, the Sisters have chanted the Magnificat. Now at the 50th Anniversary of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Mary’swords ring clear and true: “The Almighty has done great things for [us], and Holy is His Name!” Deo Gratias per Jesum in Sanctissimo Sacramento!
"I bless you in my life and after my death as much as Ican and more than I can with all the blessings with which the Father of mercies has and will have blessed His sons and daughters in heaven and on earth. Amen."
-- From the Blessing of St. Clare
“[The life of cloistered nuns] is a reminder to all Christian people of the fundamental vocation of everyone to come to God; and it is a foreshadowing of the goal towards which the entire community of the Church journeys, in order to live forever as the Bride of the Lamb.”
“You have found the hidden treasure,the pearl of great value (cf. Mt 13:44-46);you have responded radically to Jesus’ invitation: ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me’ (Mt 19:21). Every monastery —male or female— is an oasis in which the deep well, from which to draw ‘living water’ to quench our deepest thirst, is constantly being dug with prayer and meditation…In the world’s eyes it sometimes seems impossible to spend one’s whole life in a monastery, but in fact a whole life barely suffices to enter into this union with God, into this essential and profound Reality which is Jesus Christ.”
-- Pope Benedict XVI
In watchful waiting for the Lord’s return the cloister becomes a response to the absolute love of God and the fulfillment of his eternal desire to welcome his creature into the mystery of intimacy with the Word, who gave himself as Bridegroom in the Eucharist and remains in the tabernacle as the heart of full communion with himself.