When Grace Urbanski isn’t developing children’s materials for the Apostleship of Prayer, she may be offering her day up to God in a number of ways. One way that Urbanski incorporates her faith into her daily life is as a professional vocalist.
In April, she sang a few pieces from musical works inspired by Shakespeare at Marquette University for an annual Shakespeare birthday celebration. On June 5, Urbanski will perform in a concert series called, “The Beatitudes” at the St. Joseph Chapel in Milwaukee. She also serves her parish as a cantor at Mass at St. Mary’s Visitation in Elm Grove.
For Urbanski, music and prayer are inter-related forms of meditation.
“When I pray, songs and melodies often float through my meditations. When I sing, I am transported. My whole body works as a single unit to produce the sounds that praise God,” said Urbanski. “I always feel good after I sing and that’s a gift from God. Music is a great way to pray and have fun.”
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As a college student, Urbanski had plans to enter religious life. God had other plans. While earning degrees in English and theology at Marquette University, she met her husband, David. A few years after graduation, they were married and began a family.
The couple has five children ages 16 to 9 years. Prior to her new position at the Apostleship of Prayer, she taught English at Marquette University.
Through her Jesuit experience, she became a follower of the Ignation spirituality. “St. Ignatius urges us to find God in all things,” Urbanski said. “Praying in the Ignatian way means paying close attention to everyone and everything around us. Whatever I find that helps me to become closer to God, I embrace. Whatever distracts me from God, I put aside as much as possible. This is a very practical way to see how God provides for me and wants me to be happy forever.”
The election of Pope Francis, a Jesuit, was exciting for Urbanski.
“I am thrilled that one of the many early gifts of Francis’ papacy is the interest he has sparked in Ignatian spirituality,” said Urbanski.
Her experience as a mother, an English professor, a theology major and a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, make her a good fit to head up the children’s ministry where she writes children’s materials and speaks to groups.
“I speak to mom’s groups throughout the country, listening to them and giving them tips about how to pray with their children,” said Urbanski. “I gave a talk to the Compass mother’s group at St. Eugene (Fox Point) and St. Monica (Whitefish Bay) in March, explaining how moms have to be prophets in their families.”
She also visited St. Louis in March, where she and Jesuit Fr. Chris Collins conducted a day of prayer for the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a prayer service with families, and an in-service day for teachers at a Catholic grade school about how to encourage devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
During speaking engagements, she wants children to reflect on how precious they are to God.
“When children are grateful to God for his love freely given, they naturally turn their attention to the needs of others. Children also need to include the prayer intentions of the pope. All the children I’ve met think it is totally awesome that the pope asks them to pray with him,” she said.