Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother.” Today is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, the titular feast of the Jesuits. What better day to interview someone who works for God through the Society of Jesus? Let’s meet Grace Mazza Urbanski!
What’s your name?
Grace Mazza Urbanski
Tell us a little bit about your family.
My husband, David, and I have five children. We married the week after I finished my undergraduate degree, and the first four children were born in the first five years of marriage. Exhausting! And thrilling. There’s roughly 18 months between each of the first four children, but a whole THREE years between the fourth and the fifth. The children insist that we’re missing someone who should have been born in that gap. They call that person the “Missing Urbanski,” and many of their friends regularly lobby to be adopted to fill the position.
By the end of this month, the children will be 18, 17, 15, 14, and 10. Things we enjoy both individually or corporately include languages, legos, movies, camping, music, theater, reading, faith, and lots and lots of company at our house.
Imagine you’re at a dinner party. Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?” What’s your answer?
I work at a Catholic (Jesuit) organization called the Apostleship of Prayer. I design prayer materials for children and travel across the country giving presentations to children and adults alike. I am able to do this now because my own five children are all in school, and they attend the school where my husband teaches Latin. They’re really good at working together to keep everything going when I need to be away.
[Erin here. Grace also has a children’s ministry blog at PrayingWithGrace.org.]
How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be?
This job is a giant, delicious humble pie. If I write and teach about prayer, then guess what I need to be doing? Praying. I have a prideful, independent streak, and I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I indulged that while working in the Apostleship of Prayer. Being part of a family already helped me learn about being a team player and depending on God’s providence, but those lessons were more . . . private. I now stand on a scaffold in the public square while my sins flap in the breeze.
What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home?
See above. A more humble, prayerful mom makes the family better. That’s a benefit because of the nature of my work. The simple fact that I work has benefits too, because it explands my worldview. I tend to get deeply involved with volunteer activities whenever I am able. With my husband working at the school my children attend, though, too much of ME in that same mix could lead us to be myopic about our little community. When I have other communities’ visions on my mind, I tend to have a better perspective on our little corner of the world.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace?
My organization is extremely pro-family, so they understand when I need to make myself more available to my family at times. For example, I take the entire month of August off, just to share that sweet summer month at home. Even when people in the office tease me for that August “vacation” (it’s unpaid), I feel zero guilt. My family is my first and best work. If I neglect my family, my ministry will suffer.
What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more?
I’m still astonished at the lack of respect women receive in the workplace, perhaps especially in ministry. For example, a team of four young Jesuits (one priest, three in formation) was going to run a retreat at a parish. Two of the Jesuits had to cancel, so my Jesuit co-worker asked me to step in and give some of the talks (which I have done before, am totally capable of, blah, blah, blah). Then my co-worker called the parish priest who was hosting the retreat. He told the priest that the retreat team experienced a change: instead of three (non-ordained) Jesuits in formation and one Jesuit priest, the retreat team would now consist of one Jesuit priest, one Jesuit in formation, and one laywoman. The parish priest canceled the retreat. We still have work to do before the gifts of women are valued as much as men’s gifts.
Thank you, Grace!
Are you a working mother? So was (and is) the Blessed Mother! If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”