University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

South Bend, October 1-7, 1979

The Visit of the Pope to the United States

Coming from Ireland, John Paul II arrived Monday, October 1, late in the afternoon in Boston. This was the beginning of his first pastoral pilgrimage to the United States. At his first Mass on Boston Common more than a million faithful had gathered. This Pope radiates a special charisma. Millions of people of all faiths feel attracted by him. His humanity and pastoral message have a convincing effect wherever he goes. The next day, October 2, he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. He referred to the Universal Human Rights that are embodied in the Charta of the United Nations. He drew special attention to the “inalienable rights” of every individual to freedom of conscience and worship. He, thereby, related to the guiding principle of the American Declaration of Independence. His main concern remained the dignity of the human person which has to be respected. The second theme of his address dealt with the question of peace and the recent efforts made to limit the nuclear arms race.

The New Yorkers gave John Paul II, what is rare, a ticker-tape parade when his motorcade drove down Broadway to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. With the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop, he spoke, despite a heavy rain, to a crowd of people who represented the ethnic diversity of American immigration. In Philadelphia, John Paul II spoke again about freedom, a theme that was historically suggested by Independence Hall. After a visit to a farm in Iowa, where he celebrated Mass under the free open skies of the prairie, John Paul II arrived in Chicago on Friday, October 5. Especially Chicagoans of Polish descent cheered their Pope. Half a million people congregated to celebrate Mass in Grant Park. From Chicago, John Paul II flew to Washington, D.C., where he was received by President Carter in the White House. On Sunday, October 7, his first pastoral visit to the United States came to an end.

It cannot be denied that America itself felt reaffirmed in its basic values by this papal visit. On the other hand, John Paul II has certainly gained strength from the refreshing optimism he encountered here.

South Bend, [Beginning of October], 1979

Preparation for American Citizenship

Once we had obtained permanent residence, we were recommended to aspire to achieve American citizenship. As a prerequisite, one has to fulfill the residence requirement, i.e., one has to stay five years in the country. Only if one works abroad for an American company or institution, the period spent abroad also counts toward the residence requirement. As a family we were absolutely certain that we would accept American citizenship as soon as the requirements have been fulfilled. Actually, the last steps toward American citizenship are simple. The applicant needs two U.S. citizens who serve as character witnesses. Our witnesses were Professor and Mrs. Louis Hasley from the English Department at the University of Notre Dame. We were good friends with the Hasleys since our first stay at Notre Dame. Professor and Mrs. Hasley had helped taking care of the Notre Dame student group in Innsbruck, 1964-65. As soon as one files the application, one will be called to appear with the witnesses before an examining magistrate who once more goes through all the documents and personal data. The magistrate ascertains whether one can converse in English, and he also asks a few questions on American history and government. A favorite question is who was the 16th president of the United States. Applicants are also tested if they can write their name in Latin script. This is not a matter of course, considering the strong immigration from Southeast Asia. As the essential questions had already been clarified beforehand, the entire official procedure was conducted in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. A few weeks later, one will be invited to come before a federal judge who administers the oath on the U.S. constitution.

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