When I arrived in Rome, anxious to begin another chapter in my life, the Pontifical Gregorian University welcomed me and offered me a challenge. I thank the university for the opportunity, especially for the guidance of Father Sergio Bernal, dean of the social science faculty when I entered. I am grateful to all my professors, and also the staff, whose dedication, professionalism, and kindness gave me enormous support in this venture.
Most of all, I owe a great deal to my director, Father Robert White, S.J. First, he agreed immediately to take me under his direction in a program that he was just beginning to develop at the university. For the nearly four years I was in Rome, the Center for Social Communications grew, and so did its students. Our small group of graduate students was in the forefront of an exciting and stimulating program. When Father White and I first talked about my dissertation topic, we explored a number of areas, but we kept returning to Pope John Paul II. To write about a living pope can be intimidating. However, throughout the entire period, even when I had returned to the United States, Father White was patient, but always prodding.
There were many friends and associates at the Vatican who were willing to answer my questions or lead me to some pertinent information. Members of the church's hierarchy and others who had closely worked on or observed papal visits were especially helpful in my research. Monsignor (now Bishop) Robert Lynch and Russell Shaw provided me with invaluable material, including drafts of papal speeches.