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Who We Are >> Founders >> Servant of God Gwen Cecilia Coniker

Evangelization Resources

A Legacy of Faith, Family & Love

September 22,1939-June15, 2002
click on images below to enlarge

Click to Enlarge ImageGwen Cecilia (Billings) Coniker was born in Chicago on September 27, 1939. She met her future husband, Jerry,Click to Enlarge Image when she was 15 years old, while they were both attending St. Gregory High School. They were married on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1959 and consecrated their marriage to Jesus through Mary at Our Lady’s side altar. They had no idea then what Our Lady was calling them to.

     Seeing the decline in Christian values in society, theyClick to Enlarge Image soon became deeply involved in the right-to-life and family values movement. Gwen loved children and always said she would like to have a dozen. “There’s nothing like a baby!” she would say. Her first one was Maureen Therese, born premature on June 22, 1960. Then followed Kathy Lynne, Laurie Ann, Margaret Rose, Sharon Marie, Michael John, and Robert Anthony.

     The direction of their lives was drastically changed on April 28, 1971, (Feast of St. Louis de Montfort) when they Click to Enlarge Imagemade their consecration to Jesus through Mary according to the de Montfort formula. This is the same consecration that changed the life of Karol Wojtyla, now Pope John Paul II, whose papal motto is Totus Tuus, Mater Ecclesia (Totally yours, Mother of the Church). After making this consecration, Jerry and Gwen were convinced more than ever that the battle to end abortion and save the family was primarily a spiritual one, thus they made the decision to devote their full-time to the work of the Church.

     Click to Enlarge Image On May 13th (Feast of Our Lady of Fatima) that same year, the Conikers sold their home and business. On September 8th (Our Lady’s birthday), they moved their family to Fatima, Portugal where they lived for two years. During that time, their third son, Joseph Vincent, was born at a hospital in Lisbon. After what turned out to be a two-year “retreat-preparation” time for their work in the Church, the Conikers returned to the United States in June of 1973. They began to work for Fr. Bernard Geiger, O.F.M. Conv., who at the time was the National Director of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Knights of the Immaculata. Soon after, their ninth child, James Francis, was born—the first of four Cesarean births. Maria Ann was born a year later on September 4th.

     Jerry and Gwen founded the Apostolate for Family Consecration in the Holy Year of 1975 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. When she becameClick to Enlarge Image pregnant with her eleventh child, Gwen was willing to risk death despite the warnings of her doctor, in order to give birth. Theresa Marie, a healthy baby girl, was born just after Christmas in 1975. A year later Gwen miscarried their twelfth child, “Angelica”. In October of 1977, Gwen gave birth to Mary Elizabeth, their thirteenth child.

     Click to Enlarge Image Jerry and Gwen were married for forty-two (42) years, and their love for each other grew every day. They had the joy of watching their family grow, first with their 13 children, then 11 faithful spouses, and 52 grandchildren (and still counting!), who through the grace of God are all in the Faith.

Their love for God and each other blossomed into an internationalClick to Enlarge Image Apostolate for Family Consecration movement for families with four interrelated family ministries—Familyland TV Network, Catholic Familyland centers all over the world, Consecration in Truth Catechetics and Lay Ecclesial Teams—with members on five continents.

     Gwen shared a kindred spirit with both Pope John Paul II and Click to Enlarge ImageMother Teresa. From 1984 - 2000, Gwen was privileged to have had nine papal encounters. Pope John Paul II was able to read her soul as he looked deeply into her eyes. On April 29, 1999, the Holy Father appointed Jerry and Gwen Coniker to be members of his Pontifical Council for the Family, which advises the papacy on family matters in the world. The Coniker family represented theClick to Enlarge Image theme—"Children, the Springtime of Hope for Family and Society" in the Jubilee Year 2000, at St. Peter’s Square with the Pope. On October 7, 2001, Jerry and Gwen both received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from Pope John Paul II through Bishop Gilbert Sheldon of Steubenville, and on December 13th of that same year, they were received in the Pontifical order of the Knights of St. Michael of the Wing by the crown prince of Portugal. Thus Gwen was named “Lady Guenevere.”

      On November 2, 2001, Gwen was diagnosed with cirrhosis of theClick to Enlarge Image liver and was told that she had less than a year to live. This illness was actually contracted by a blood transfusion that she had during one of her Cesarean births in the mid 1970’s. She peacefully accepted her sickness and physical sufferings. She had no regrets. She loved all her children and she loved life. In May of 2002, she was diagnosed with cancer, and her last days were spent in very intense pain. She passed away at 5:30 a.m. on June 15, 2002 in the arms of her loving husband after the Anointing of the Sick by Fr. Bernard Geiger (who for many years has been the Coniker’s spiritual director) at her Click to Enlarge Imagehome at Catholic Familyland in Bloomingdale, Ohio.  She was sixty-two (62) years old. It is no coincidence that she died on June 15th, which was the Feast of the Sacred Heart in 1917—the same year that Our Lady appeared to the three Shepherd Children at Fatima, Portugal. This is a movable feast on which the Apostolate for Family Consecration celebrates its founding. 

     Click to Enlarge ImageGwen was buried on June 22, 2002, on the forty-second birthday of her first child, Maureen. She is laid to rest at Catholic Familyland, Bloomingdale, Ohio, in the crypt of The Apostolate’s St. John Vianney Oratory Chapel behind the altar of our Blessed Mother that contains a relic of St. Louis de Montfort and a copy of the original handwritten manuscript of his famous work, "True Devotion to Mary." A “Tomb to the Unborn Child” (commemorating the millions of aborted babies) is also present near Gwen’s grave, on the outside wall of the Vianney Oratory Chapel, giving testimony to a wife and mother who gave her all and totally fulfilled God’s will.


Article on the official opening of Gwen's Cause for Beatification

Gwen's Prayer Card

Gwen's Writings

Hearts Touched by Gwen
Inspirational writings
Homily by Fr. Bernard Geiger
Photo Album
Listen to some of Gwen's last words to her loved ones put to music
     ♥ Gwen's last word with Christmas Songs
     ♥ Love & Peace Forever
   ♥ My Greatest Treasure My Family

Watch these touching videos & Get to know our beloved Mama C

  Gwen shares her words of wisdom & love with her family Nov 3, 2001
 A compilation of Gwen's talks throughout the years.  The Legacy of Gwen Coniker

  • Jerome Coniker (husband)
  • Joseph Coniker ( Son)
  • Michael Coniker (Son)
  • John Kukula (Apostolate member)
  • John Presberg (Nephew)

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