Apostolate For Family Consecration General Assembly Elects New President

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After months of prayerful discernment, the General Assembly of the Apostolate for Family Consecration, has elected Robert Coniker of Hopedale, Ohio as the organization's second president.

After months of prayerful discernment, the General Assembly of the Apostolate for Family Consecration, has elected Robert Coniker of Hopedale, Ohio, as the organization's second president. He succeeds his father, co-founder and President Jerome F, Coniker, who submitted his resignation on January 25, 2011, after 36 years as president.

Robert Coniker was chosen by the General Assembly from a field of four candidates. A life member of the Apostolate since 2005, Robert Coniker has been a part of its ministry since its beginning, 36 years ago, and has served its mission fulltime for 18 years after graduating from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1993.

He has been married to his wife, Nisan, for 17 years. They are the parents of eight children: Anthony 16, Adriana 14, John 13, Michaela 11, Monica 9, Julia 6, Ethan 3 and David 11 months. Robert Coniker was elected by the required two-thirds vote of the General Assembly of the Apostolate for Family Consecration. Other candidates nominated for the office were: Jim Kocisko, Michael O’Rourke and Alan Zimmerer.

Robert Coniker will be inaugurated as president on May 1, following a 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Mass at Catholic Familyland’s St. Joseph Auditorium. Reservations required for attendance.

Accepting his new responsibilities, Robert Coniker said,

"I accept this role of service; service to both those who collaborate in this mission of family consecration and to those who will come alive in Jesus Christ because of the message of hope for families that we proclaim.

"I accept this role because I believe with my whole heart that this is God's will for me. This has been his plan since the foundation of the world. This Apostolate has been thought of and planned for by God to be here right at this point in history.

"We are all called to be here right at this point in history; to be in loving service to one another and to the will of God. He wants each of us to have trust and confidence in Him and that His grace is working through us.

"I know that this Apostolate will go on to help millions of families to live lives consecrated to God. Our purpose is to lovingly serve with complete joy the will of our Heavenly Father, to die, and then to live with him for all eternity. We are meant to have union with Jesus Christ on this earth as we serve with hearts filled with hope and joy.

"We are called to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. He looks upon us as His son or daughter just as he looks upon His son Jesus Christ. What a glorious heritage we have!

"My parents, Jerry and Gwen, responded so generously and faithfully to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit to bring about this new work within the Church. Their witness of faith and love will forever be a strength and example to me.

"I accept joyfully the path that God has chosen for me. May His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!"

Jerome F. Coniker, who co-founded the Apostolate for Family Consecration 36 years ago with his wife Gwen (now deceased), will continue to serve the Apostolate as Founder, asking the Board of Directors in a January 25, 2011 memorandum “…to see it as God asking me and each of you to accept it with gratitude, trust and joy.”

In that same memorandum, Mr. Coniker said people should view his retirement as President as the passing on of “…an apostolate focused on the ‘domestic Church,’ the family, uniquely founded by a couple for the benefit of other families, and providentially called to be a part of the Great vision of Pope John Paul II to renew the world and the Church through the family.”

Accepting Mr. Coniker’s retirement, the Board praised both him and his late wife and co-founder, Gwen, for being “…witnesses to each of us and to those outside of the Apostolate for Family Consecration of the sacrificial willingness to serve the Church, in this era of implementation of the Second Vatican Council’s universal call to holiness, particularly as it pertains to the lay faithful.”

Mr. Coniker, a Chicago native, married Gwen Billings, his high school sweetheart, in 1959. Together they began a family that eventually included 13 children (one now with the Lord), along with a business, Coniker Systems, Inc. which had clients in many of America’s top corporations of the time.

After working to raise consciousness in opposition to the rising rate of abortions and the introduction of sex education without values in public schools, Jerry Coniker sold his business and moved his family to Portugal, near the Marian Shrine of Fatima, in 1971. It was during those 18 months in Portugal that the already devout man had a further spiritual awakening.

The formula for world peace delivered by the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three children at Fatima, and Coniker’s conviction about the power of family consecration to Jesus through Mary in the spirit of St. Louis DeMontfort, in addition to his personal experience heading a large Catholic family, all convinced him that there was a need for an organization to support families in their efforts to lead holy lives in the face of worldly temptations.

Returning to America in 1973, Coniker first went to work as executive director of the Knights of the Immaculata, founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, a World War II Polish martyr who had used print and radio to spread the faith.

After a period of prayer and discernment, and with the help and support of their children and like minded friends, Jerry and Gwen Coniker founded the Apostolate for Family Consecration in 1975, as a Church-approved Private Association of Christ’s Faithful, and the Apostolate began its multimedia ministry to help families get to heaven. In 2007 the Apostolate for Family Consecration received the Decree of Recognition and Approval by the Pontifical Council for the Laity as a Private International Association of the Faithful.

From their first headquarters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Apostolate moved to the Diocese of Steubenville’s former seminary complex in Bloomingdale, Ohio, in 1990. The property was transformed into Catholic Familyland, a place set apart for families to be immersed in Catholic culture through retreats, conferences and Holy Family Fests.

Familyland also became the center for production of the “Consecration in Truth” multimedia materials that utilizes such well-known teachers as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Roman Curia Cardinal Francis Arinze.

In the midst of all this growth, Gwen Coniker was diagnosed with a fatal illness that took her life on June 15, 2002. Five years, later, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Steubenville declared her a “Servant of God,” and opened the cause for her sainthood.

The Apostolate also expanded internationally, with members and centers in the Philippines, Mexico, Belgium, Russia, Myanmar and Nigeria. Familyland Television Network began broadcasting in November of 1999, reaching viewers in the United States via satellite and cable TV, and countless millions of viewers in Asia from the Apostolate’s center in the Philippines. In 2008, FL-TV introduced an online version of the network at http://www.familyland.tv.                

The Apostolate has continued to use the modern tools of communication to expand its ministry, including an online version of the “Apostolate’s Family Catechism” at familycatechism.com. The site, available in English, Spanish, Filipino, and Chinese, contains videos related to each catechism question, along with relevant citations of Sacred Scripture and Church documents.

Further information about the Apostolate for Family Consecration and its ministries is available at the Apostolate’s main website, http://www.familyland.org.

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Theresa Schmitz

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