In February, four professed religious and one lay member of an apostolate celebrated big milestones in the years they've given to religious life. Originally I was going to do a brief interview with each of them and combine the talks into one podcast episode, but it soon became apparent that their individual testimonies were too rich and lengthy to be cut down into a single hour. Instead, this episode will kick off a series of podcast episodes where we speak to members of religious communities on the work they do for our Diocese and how they came to fulfill the call to religious life. We've already have several articles examining the important work of the religious communities in the Diocese of Gallup, but the format of a podcast allows members of these orders to voice their thoughts and experiences aloud. First up is Mary Ellen Kocunik, a member of the Madonna House Apostolate. The Madonnas, as they are affectionately called, make up a lay organization of men and women who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Since their founding in the 1940s, they have established houses across the world. Their original home is in Combermere, Canada. Their home in the Diocese of Gallup was once of the first established outside Canada, in the 1950s, and is located in Winslow, Arizona. In this episode, we talk about: The founding and overall mission of the Madonna Houses The history of the Madonnas in the Diocese of Gallup How a lay organization differs from a professed religious order How Mary Ellen Kocunik came to join the Madonnas Further reading: madonnahouse.org, the official website of the organization Do you have any questions or comments? Leave them in the comment section below!