Even before his first day in office, Delta State University President William N. LaForge reached out to universities in Poland to discuss student and faculty exchange possibilities. In March, LaForge taught at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) in Poland, and had the unique opportunity to make a special presentation at the city’s John Paul II Center. The Center, located in the Bishop’s Palace in Lublin, is dedicated to the memory of the famous Pope who began his academic career at KUL, and houses archives and a library about the Pope and his life.
LaForge presented copies of the program from a White House reception that was held for Pope John Paul II during his first visit to the United States in 1979. LaForge and his wife, Nancy, attended the event which was staged on the south lawn of the White House and featured remarks by the Pope and President Jimmy Carter. Mississippi’s own Leontyne Price sang a beautiful rendition of the Lord’s Prayer.
LaForge’s presentation to the John Paul II Center included copies of the program from the White House reception, as well as the program for the Mass celebrated by the Pope on the National Mall the next day. The Center’s Director, Rev. Piotr Drozd, welcomed the gifts and was pleased to have the programs from the early days of the Pope’s papacy, for which they do not have a lot of memorabilia and documents.