Tuesday, November 13, 2012

WE NEED MORE LAY SAINTS

Gwen Coniker

Jerry & Gwen
Gwen Cecilia (Billings) Coniker was born in Chicago in 1939. She met her future husband when she was 15 years old, while both were in High School. They were married in 1959. At the end of the wedding Mass, they consecrated their marriage to Jesus through Mary at Our Lady’s side altar. In December of that same year, both Gwen and Jerry became deeply involved in the right-to-life and family values movement.

Jerry started his own business systems and manufacturing company  in 1961. For ten years, they worked vigorously for the family values movement for which they organized volunteers.

In 1971 the direction of their lives was drastically changed when they made their consecration to Jesus through Mary according to the formula of St. Louis de Montfort. The same formula (Totus Tuus) that changed the life of Karol Wojtyla, now Bl. Pope John Paul II, to whom the Conikers have devoted their life by carrying out his teachings throughout the world.

On May 13, 1971, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the Conikers sold their home and soon after, their business. On September 8th of that same year, they moved their family to Fatima, Portugal, which turned into a two-year retreat and preparation time for their work in the Church. A pro-life activist concerned for the family, Jerry decided he "couldn't succeed politically without bringing people back to God."


Gwen presenting to Bl. John Paul II
In  1973, the Conikers returned to the United States and Jerry became the executive director of a Franciscan ministry, the Militia Immaculata, in Wisconsin.. Two years later, they officially started the Apostolate for Family Consecration, a family-values oriented movement, in Kenosha, Wisconsin

In October of 1990, they established the present 950-acre Catholic Familyland in Bloomingdale, Ohio, at the former Steubenville diocesan seminary. Each year are conducted “Holy Family Fest” vacations for families, Totus Tuus weekend conferences and Marriage Get Away Weekends for thousands of participants.

On April 29, 1999, Bl. Pope John Paul II appointed Jerry and Gwen Coniker to be one of 20 couples in the world that are members of his Pontifical Council for the Family, advising him on family matters in the world.
with Bl.. Mother Teresa

On October 14, 2000, having been asked by Bl. Pope John Paul II  to represent the theme "Children, the Springtime of Hope for Family and Society" for the great Jubilee of Families at St. Peter’s Square, the Coniker family personally greeted the Holy Father and presented to him the international work and mission of the Apostolate for Family Consecration.

In 2001, Jerry and Gwen as a couple received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award from the Holy Father. This papal award was instituted by Pope Leo XIII on July 7, 1888 and is bestowed upon persons who have given outstanding service to the Church.

Two months later, on December 15, 2001, Gwen was made Lady Guenevere of the Pontifical Order of St. Michael of the Wing of Portugal (since then Crown Prince of Portugal, the Duke of Braganza, made Jerry Coniker a knight). This is one of the oldest knight orders of the Church that has pontifical status and its main purpose is to protect the Church.

Gwen Coniker died of cancer in 2002, and in June 2007 the Bishop of Steubenville let the cause for her canonization proceed. The initial investigation, into whether she showed "heroic virtue," began that September. Part of the evidence presented was her refusing to abort her eleventh child, Theresa, when her doctor said the pregnancy would burst her uterus and kill her. The baby was delivered safely, and she had two more children.

Conicker Family- Gwen, on left

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