Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame to induct Janie Ledlow Shores and Mother Angelica
by Mary Amelia Taylor, Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Janie Shores, Alabama’s first female Supreme Court Justice, and Mother Mary Angelica, founder of EWTN Global Catholic Network, will be inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame on March 5, 2020. The induction ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. in Alumnae Auditorium on the Judson College campus in Marion, Ala., and will be open to the public at no charge. A luncheon will follow the induction ceremony. Alex Colvin, Public Programs Curator at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, will give the keynote address at the luncheon. Reservations are required by February 25 for the luncheon (tickets $50) and may be made by calling (334) 683-5109.
Janie Ledlow Shores
Born in 1932 in Butler County, Alabama, Janie Ledlow Shores became a trail-blazer for women in legal professions in Alabama and beyond. Shores attended Judson College from 1954-1956, earning pre-law credits before entering the Law School at the University of Alabama, where she joined a cohort with only 4 other female students. She served as editor of the Alabama Law Review while a student at UA and graduated with honors in 1959. Shores then entered professional and courtroom environments in a state where women were not permitted to serve on juries until 1966.
After a few years of private practice in Selma and as a staff attorney with Liberty National, in 1965 Shores became the first female law school professor in the state of Alabama (at Cumberland School of Law at Samford University). In 1974 she became the first woman elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, where she served for the next 25 years. In 1993, her friend and U.S. Senator Howell Heflin recommended her to President Bill Clinton for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, a seat that would ultimately be filled by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Clinton appointed Shores to the State Justice Institute, a private nonprofit entity focused on improving the administration and quality of state courts.
Shores announced her retirement from the Alabama Supreme Court in 1998, leaving the bench and a remarkable judicial legacy in 1999. “During the time she served on the Court,” Heflin said, “Janie never lost sight of the fact that she should eliminate barriers to equal opportunity for women.” Shores accomplished much toward eliminating those barriers in her career, but she also took time to encourage and inspire young women in other ways.
Shores committed to preserving the stories of Alabama women as a long-time board member of the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame, housed on the Judson College campus. In a 1997 commencement address at Judson College, Shores reminded graduates of their opportunity and great responsibility to “make the world a better place”. “You are understandably nervous about taking this next step in your life, but you are more ready than you may think you are,” said Shores. “If you need inspiration to tackle the problems of our world,” Shores said, referencing the Hall of Fame, “inspiration is available right here on the Judson campus…There, you’ll find inspiration from those who came before you.”
Justice Shores will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by Leila Watson, former Law Clerk of Justice Shores.
Mother Mary Angelica
In 1923, the woman who would become Mother Mary Angelica was born as Rita Rizzo in Cleveland, Ohio. Through the challenges of poverty, an unstable home, and ill health, Rita grew a faith in God that led her to become a nun whose humble service to her Savior would make significant contributions not only to the Catholic Church but to the world. She joined the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Canton, Ohio, in 1953, taking the name Sister Mary Angelica. She dreamed of opening a monastery in the Deep South, so she turned her efforts to fundraising. A creative and entrepreneurial spirit surfaced in her as she led the sisters to establish St. Peter’s Fishing Lures, a fly fishing lure company that, due to the Sisters’ creative skill and Sister (later, Mother) Angelica’s marketing and business acumen, garnered national attention. Mother Angelica and the Sisters raised enough money for a move South, and she and several other Sisters established Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Ala., in 1962.
To raise funds to support the monastery, Mother Angelica again used her charisma, entrepreneurship, and gift for teaching. She and the Sisters began the “Lil’ Ole Peanut Company” to roast, package, and sell peanuts, and, within a year, they had paid all of the monastery’s debts. Mother Angelica began giving talks locally and writing “Mini-Books” on religious life and social issues, and the Sisters began printing and packaging the books for a growing following. She began recording her talks for a television audience with the CBS affiliate network in Birmingham in the mid-1970s. In 1981, she launched the world’s first Catholic cable channel, the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), in the garage of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. EWTN Global Catholic Network is now the largest religious media network in the world, offering 24-hour programming to over 300 million households in more than 145 countries and territories.
In 1995, Mother Angelica’s story was featured in TIME magazine, which named her “the most influential Roman Catholic woman in America”. That year, during a trip to Colombia, South America, in support of EWTN’s Spanish offerings, Mother Angelica felt a calling from God to build a temple shrine and monastery that could serve as a place of pilgrimage and worship in Alabama. After three-and-a-half years of planning and building, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Ala., was completed.
In 2009, Mother Angelica received the papal medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (for the Church and the Pontiff) from Pope Benedict XVI, for distinguished service to the Catholic Church. She passed away in March 2016 and was buried in a crypt at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Mother Angelica will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by Walter Anderton, architect of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.
For more information about the induction ceremony, luncheon, or the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame, contact Beth Poole, Executive Secretary, at email@example.com or 334.683.5109.
The Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame is located in Marion, Alabama, on the campus of Judson College in A. Howard Bean Hall. The Hall of Fame was established in 1970 to provide a permanent place of honor for Alabama’s most outstanding women and a place for visitors to learn about the significant contributions these women have made to the state and nation. Inductees must be deceased for two years and be from or affiliated with Alabama. Women to be inducted are selected by unanimous vote of the board of directors of the AWHF.