Biegała Urbanski

Anna Biegała Urbanska

While querying for background on an event in St. Anthony’s parish, I stumbled across a lovely and long obituary for Anna Biegała Urbanska. Anna was the mother of Fr. John A. Urbanski, who was a young priest when he became the pastor of a new parish in the Kuschwantz, Navity Parish. Fr. Urbanski celebrated Nativity’s first Mass at St. Anthony’s on 25 June 1922 (parishioners attended Mass at St. Anthony’s while the new church was being prepared by transforming the former Polish National Catholic church and two other buildings into a new church). The parish was completed that August.

Anna was born in Slonsk, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland, married Antoni Urbanski in Szadłowice, and their eldest children were born in Poland. Fr. John Urbanski was the last child in the family born in Poland. Three children were born in Toledo.

The obituary was published in Jednośc Polek (Unity of Polish Women) on 20 January 1925 on the first page. The Jednośc Polek was a publication of the Association of Polish Women in the United States of America. It was based in Cleveland, Ohio and was a benefit society for Polish women. The Association had an insurance fund, awarded scholarships, taught classes on Polish language and heritage, had social activities such as bowling clubs, and led charity projects. The paper carried news relevant to Polish women and families throughout the country, and carried many articles for and about Poles in Toledo. I suspect Mrs. Urbanska was a member and her place in Polish American society in Toledo as the mother of an ordained priest likely afforded her a bit of prominence in the Polish American community. This obituary is somewhat unusual in that the prose is detailed about her death and her relationship with her sons as well as provided detail about the funeral service. It was written with much respect and reverence for Mrs. Urbanska.

Jednośc Polek is written in Polish, and I’ve tried to obtain as clear, concise of a translation as possible. The original is available through the Chronicling America website. This link will take you to the exact edition and page the obituary is located. The headline is entitled Wiadomośi Z Toledo.

News from Toledo

After a short, 4 day weakness from an attack of paralysis, Anna née Biegatów Urbanska reconciled with her Creator at the age of 65 next to her son, Fr. John, the pastor of Nativity parish.

Anna was honorably known in the town of her family. She was born 16 July 1859 in Szadłowicach, Poznań. In her seventeenth year, on November 8, 1875, she gave her hand in marriage to Antoni Urbanski and the Lord blessed this marriage with nine children, three of whom died in the early first years of their lives. Son Jozef was the father of a large family, and he died less than two years ago. These sons remain alive: Władysław, Michał, Ludwick, a famous industrialist, Fr. John, and Sylwester, an attorney. Daughter Władysława, survives as well, she is the wife of pharmacist Franciszek Pietrykowski.

For 36 years, she was an exemplary wife and mother. She was a widow for 13 years, devoting herself entirely to the education and upbringing of her offspring. She took care that her sons would follow the path of virtue and obedience to God’s and the Church’s commandment. In upbringing her young offspring, her son Jozef was especially helpful for her. It was after his loss that her health often fell ill and the loving care of her other children, especially Fr. John, supported the spark in her life.

On New Year’s Eve, she made her confession. She returned to the parish rectory and she started a conversation with her son and Fr. W. Bielecki. They were chatting in the guest room. During the conversation, she was guided by premonitions and recalled names and memories of her husband and son Jozef. Fr. John had preparations made for the overnight guest (Fr. Bielecki) and he requested his mother go to sleep. (Mrs. Urbanski was living with Fr. Urbanski in the rectory.) Moments later, Fr. John knelt beside her bed in prayer.

The next day, the celebration of the New Year, there was no murmur from the old woman’s bedroom in the morning. As if he were guided by a premonition, Fr. John carefully and quietly entered the bedroom and found his beautiful mother paralyzed on the right side of her body.

On Sunday, the patient’s health seemed to be stable but on Monday, there was a crisis. At 8:15 p.m. on the eve of the Three Kings, there was a peaceful death. Her funeral took place on the 9th of this month. Remarks came from a multitude of ranks, among them came from the city council and she was distinguished in a resolution that was adopted to express sympathy to Mr. Michał Urbanski, a counselor from the Fourth Ward, and to his family and his siblings.

The coffin was carried by young priests, all of whom were friends of Fr. John, all of whom Fr. John spoke to during the holidays about the relaxation and comforts of home. The mournful process was made up of the following and priests who also sang psalms:

Fr. Monsignor O’Connell, A.J. Sawkins, L.J. Mayle, F. Brusieker, W. Carroll, A. Schmitt, Fr. Malone, Wm. McKeown, J.P. Wachowski, E. Zulka, A. Petrzykowski, N. Dziuk, F. Czelusta, M. Robaszkiewicz, Dr. W. Czarnecki, L. Lubiatowski, S. Jazwiecki, W. Daniela, W. Surowinski, all of whom were from the Toledo area. M. Gana, A.A. Majewski, A. Dziatkiewicz, and E. Mariel from Detroit. B. Ciesielski from Jackson, Mich. P. Fechnerowski from Bay City, Mich., A. Radecki and Brena from Cleveland. T. Smyk from Chicago, A. Dudkiewicz of Plains, Pa., Flannigan of Whiteford, Mich. and the Jesuits, M. Kurzeja, J. Szuba, K. Jankowski, and W. Bielecki.

Because of the slim presbytery in the church, Fr. Łegowski and other clergy in the sacristy were tightly packed in for the ceremonies. There was little space in the interior of the church and many were surrounding the church by standing on pavement in the church courtyard.

The clergy sang a vigil and a solemn mass was was said by Fr. John who was assisted by Dr. Czarnecki as Deacon and Fr. A. Pietrzykowski as Subdeacon. The choir was composed of the parish’s teacher Sisters who performed beautifully melancholic songs.

Fr. John as celebrant fought the urge to reveal his filial pain. It was during the singing of the Preface that his voice died in his throat and in the mausoleum where massive tears rose on his cheeks.

When the service was over, Fr. Kurzeja S.J. delivered a funeral speech. A long row of caring clergy and crowd accompanied the body to the cemetery where last prayers were said and Fr. Szuba S.J. said the last good bye to the deceased. And the family committed her mortal remains into the frame next to her son Jozef, who she mourned incessantly for two years.

We express our sympathy to the family and siblings of the deceased. At her grave we offered sincere prayers to the Lord for her. Lord, give her eternal rest, and may eternal light shine upon her.