So Many Gifts to Share

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by Deacon Mike Whitehead

In his letter to parishioners on his new appointment in Baton Rouge, Bishop Duca said, “I am not clear about, ‘why me?’ I have to admit that I have been surprised or puzzled by most of my pastoral appointments over the years, especially my appointment as your bishop 10 years ago. But with every appointment, no matter how puzzled, overwhelmed or humbled I felt, when I embraced the assignments without reservation, I found the joy and blessings I now know God intended.”

That statement is quintessentially Bishop Duca.

It is rare to meet a truly great man or woman that doesn’t have that thread of humility as part of his or her DNA. There is no doubt Bishop Duca’s priority from Day 1 was a gift of service to this diocese, as well as north Louisiana.

I will cherish the times when I attended Mass where he presided. Bishop Duca reinforced that every Mass is a celebration and a miracle. Without exception, every homily he gave was as deep as the Caribbean and included humor that was always genuine and never forced.

Honestly, I never believed Bishop Duca would be with us until his retirement. He has too many gifts – gifts that must be shared with others. I choose to remember him with gratitude for the 10 years we had him with us, rather than dwell on the fact that he is taking on a new assignment.

Bishop Duca always was the same, whether he was leading a deacon retreat, calling bingo numbers at a Catholic Charities fundraiser or having dinner with friends.

Humility, authenticity, compassion. There are a lot of virtues that could describe the second bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport, but whatever the description, we certainly have been blessed to have him in our lives. •

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