Mother Angelica, stories focus of Arroyo’s MIR talk
"When I look back now, I realized what I really wanted to do was tell stories,” said New Orleans-born Raymond Arroyo. And tell stories he does as founding news director, managing editor and lead anchor at the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
Arroyo, 46, will be in New Orleans April 25, speaking on the topic “How Stories Can Save Our Culture,” at the MIR Group fund-raising dinner at The Rose Garden in Harahan.
He will also talk about Mother Angelica, EWTN’s founder, who died on Easter Sunday at the age of 92.
Arroyo said he is delighted to address the MIR Group, which he considers “a force of good” in the world that promotes the devotion to Mary, mother of God. Having written six books, the graduate of Christian Brothers School and Brother Martin plans to talk about fiction’s relevance in our lives.
Importance of good stories
“We have lost our ability to tell stories,” Arroyo said, adding how important “stories and fiction are as a culture, as a society and as church. When Jesus spoke to the people he only spoke in parables, and there is a reason for that.”
Arroyo said he would use research from Princeton, MIT and scholars to show why people tell and crave stories.
“Stories linger with people,” he said. “I would argue that we’ve forgotten how to tell our own stories. ... Fiction creates empathy. It’s one of the few places you can get in the head and heart of another person and take a journey with them (in an intimate way).”
Arroyo’s books include a biography of Mother Angelica and three other books featuring her prayers, lessons and spirituality; a comedy “Of Thee I Zing” written with Laura Ingraham; and his latest, “Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls,” a children’s fiction work published by Random House and available through all major booksellers.
At the luncheon, he will talk about this sixth book, the first in a series.
“There is a lot of New Orleans in ‘Perilous Falls’ that I realized after I wrote the book,” Arroyo said. For example, the main character Will borrows a relic of St. Thomas – believed to have healing powers that have protected the town from being inundated by water – to heal his brother’s broken arm. The relic is in a museum run by his great aunt who has an African-American friend living in a housing project.
It was obvious that a water reference seeped into the book after his family had experienced Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
“Will and the whole town deal with water,” he said. “I can identify with that.”
Acting and journalism
Arroyo minored in journalism and double-majored in politics and theatre at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Initially, he was working in the theater in New York and London but didn’t feel challenged by it, he said, and ventured into journalism.
He has worked as a congressional correspondent in Washington, D.C., for the Family Channel, has been a columnist for the Washington Post and worked for The Associated Press, among others.
His life changed in the 1990s when he was assigned to do a piece on Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN.
“We just connected, and that’s how we met,” he said. She asked if he would start a news division on her television station, and he did. In his job at EWTN, he started “The World Over Live” in 1996, interviewing newsmakers such as presidents and global leaders weekly. He thinks EWTN is a global central meeting place for news as seen through the eyes of the Catholic faith. He surmised that before Mother Angelica and EWTN, there was nothing on television like it.
“Mother Angelica saved so many devotions that would have been lost in the church,” he said. “She broadcast a robust, traditional vision of the church that went worldwide. I think to be able to see events through a Catholic lens with a moral sensibility is important. ... To see the pope and international leaders tangle with important affairs is an important service EWTN provides.”
Arroyo often finds himself in New Orleans visiting with family who live here. He’s been down most recently to promote “Perilous Falls.”
“I have deep ties to New Orleans and am here all the time. It’s still home. You know New Orleans – it never leaves your heart, even if you wander.”
Tickets to the MIR Group fund-raising dinner are $50 general admission or $75, which includes a wine-and-cheese patron party and meet-and-greet with Arroyo. They are available at themirgroup.org until April 10. Proceeds will defray travel expenses for pilgrimages to Medjugorje. For details, call 256-3322.