A Roman Catholic seminary near Detroit thinks Pope John Paul II should visit its new Pope John Paul II Library. Miami's Catholics argue that Florida has the nation's oldest Catholic Church and the most refugees from communism. Savannah wants the first Polish Pope to help honor Polish-American Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski who died there.
Virtually everyone, it seems, wants Pope John Paul II to visit his or her city or church or seminary when he makes his journey to the United States from Oct. 1 through Oct. 6 or 7.
But so far, the only thing that seems certain is that the pontiff will stop in New York to speak to the United Nations on Oct. 2 and in Washington at the end of the trip to say a mass on the Mall that could attract as many as one million worshippers.
The only man who knows what other cities the pope will visit is the pontiff himself and so far he has not announced his itinerary, several U.S. church officials who are helping to plan his visit said yesterday.
"The Holy Father is making the decisions himself," said the Rev. Robert Lynch of Miami, the coordinator of the papal visit.
Lynch said that he expects the Vatican to disclose the pope's itinerary within the next week or so.
Lynch and Bishop Thomas C. Kelly, the general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, traveled to Rome recently to meet with the pope about his U.S. trip.
"We proposed a workable utilization of the days [on which] they plan to be here," Lynch said. He added that, with the time constraints, the pontiff would likely not visit more than five cities.
Lynch and others refused to say which cities were recommended for papal visits. But several church sources confirmed that the pope had received invitations from church officials in Washington, New York, Chicago, Boston, Mdetroit, Savannah, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Orleans, among others.
The invitations range from formal to folksy such as the open invitation the Chicago Tribune made in an editorial - written partly in Polish - to the pope to visit the Windy City with its hugh Polish population.
Baltimore Archbishop William Borders and Cardinal Lawrence Shehan, the archdiocese's former archbishop, sent the pope a letter saying that he should visit Maryland's largest city because it is the Primatial See, that is, the first American Catholic diocese.
Even Baltimore's mayor, William Donald Schaefer, an Episcopalian, sent the pontiff a letter urging a Baltimore stopover.
Most speculation for papal visits has centered on East Coast cities and Chicago, so that the pope does not spend all his time traveling while he is in the U.S. The only city known to be ruled out so far is Savannah, according to a church official there, who said the pope wrote that he would not be able to attend the Pulaski Bicentennial.
But Lynch said, "We would like very much for him to go to Los Angeles or someplace else in the Southwest."
Chicago has a large population with Polish ancestry, but the archbishop there, Cardinal John Cody, has been feuding with local priests over a variety of issues, which might mitigate against a papal visit.
A spokesman for Boston Mayor Kevin White said that city is hopeful for a papal visit. For weeks church officials had said there would be no stopover in Boston. Now they are saying "no comment."
The Rev. Stanley Milewski, chancellor of the Orchard Lake schools 20 miles from Detroit, said he has invited the pope on four separate occasions to visit his seminary where young men, most of them with Polish ancestry, are trained to be priests in Polish-American communities. The pontiff visited the schools twice previously while he was the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland.
In addition, a Pope John Paul II Center has been started at Orchard Lake that has collected the pontiff's pronouncements as pope, books written about him and 330 articles that he wrote before becoming pope, including some on "philosophical phenomenology," a branch of existentialist philosophy.
Washington church officials said yesterday that they have made no plans for the pope's itinerary here, although the pope almost certainly will meet with President Carter and visit the archdiocesan church, St. Matthew's Cathedral. The pope would likely stay at the Apostolic Delegation, the Vatican's official office here at 3339 Massachusetts Ave. NW, according to an official there.
As it became known yesterday that Pope John Paul II may celebrate a mass on the Mall, the National Park Service received more than 100 calls from as far away as Cincinnati and South Carolina wanting to know the exact date.
But Park Service spokesman George Berklacy said that Washington church officials so far have only been able to pin down the date to one of three days, Oct. 5-7.
Church officials indicated they expect to build a stage about 50 feet deep, 100 feet long and 10 feet high for the Mall service, Berklacy said. The stage would be located about half way between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, according to Berklacy, and would face the Monument.
Church officials said they would have several hundred priests participate in the mass and serve communion and 1,500 ushers and 1,000 marshals to help control the crowd, according to Berklacy.
If a million worshipers and spectators show up for the mass, the crowd would equal or surpass the one that watched the Bicentennial fireworks dispaly on July 4, 1976, the spokesman said.
While the pope's exact Washington itinerary is not known, some preparations already are being made for the visit.
Jacqueline Wilson, director of the Secretariat for Black Catholics in the District, said that black Catholic groups are seeking some special consideration from the pope while he is here, possibly a visit to a black neighborhood.
The gift shop at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is designing souvenirs that will sell for between $1 and $5 for the papal visit.
William Grillo, assistant director of the Shrine, said that 10,000 4-by-6-inch papal flags and 15,000 postcards and 10,000 medals with the pope's picture on one side the Shrine's on the other are now being manufactured.
The Shrine is striving to make these "official souvenirs affordable to everyone who comes here," Grillo said.
"There's going to be about 3,000 [souvenirs] coming out," said Steven Borkoski, the store manager of Dinneen's Religious Goods. "It's just like the World Series. A lot of companies are going to capitalize on the pope's visit to make a few extra dollars. Everything the pope's name can be put on, they will."