Bishop Duca Installed in Baton Rouge Shreveport Bids Him Farewell

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by Jessica Rinaudo
photos by Marie Constantin & Bonny Van

August 24 was a bittersweet day for the people of the Diocese of Shreveport, especially members of the clergy, diocesan staff and friends of Bishop Michael Duca who gathered together at St. Joseph Cathedral in our capital city in preparation for his installation as the sixth Bishop of Baton Rouge. We took our seats near the front, looking through our programs as we prepared for the Mass to begin.

After a long procession of bishops, priests and deacons filed in, the sanctuary stilled. Three long raps came from outside the church’s front door, Bishop Duca’s signal that he was asking to take possession of the Cathedral church. Those sounds sent a ripple of emotion through the people gathered there – both of excitement and sadness.

After the doors opened, the trumpets sounded and those gathered sang out “Lift High the Cross” as Bishop Duca made his way down the aisle and stood at the front of the cathedral. Rev. Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargè d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, stood before the people and read the Apostolic Letter from His Holiness Pope Francis, officially appointing Most Rev. Michael G. Duca as the sixth Bishop of Baton Rouge.

After displaying the letter, Bishop Duca was escorted by Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, and Msgr. Erbi to the cathedral chair, the cathedra, and was presented with his crozier – the same crozier which was used in the installation of the Diocese of Baton Rouge’s first Bishop, Robert E. Tracy in 1958. With that, Bishop Duca was officially installed as the sixth Bishop of Baton Rouge.

Bishop Duca, true to himself, preached that day with vigor and a touch of his signature humor. He talked about what it means to be a diocese, saying, a diocese is “a portion of the people God entrusted under the pastoral care of a bishop, who with the help of his presbyters and deacons, gathers the people in the Holy Spirit in the Word and the Eucharist.”
“So, right now, as we gather here, you could take away all the buildings and all the chapels, me as the bishop with the presbyters, and even in a more powerful way, Msgr. Erbi’s presence here representing the Holy Father and our universal unity, we are the Church, fully, completely,” said Bishop Duca. “Everything that is required to be the Church is present here – one, holy, catholic, apostolic. We are the Church. And, I want you to imagine, in the Holy Spirit, with the Word of God, around this altar, celebrating the Eucharist. That’s why everything we are comes to and from this altar, for here we are together in the body of Christ and we receive from this altar that strength, that nourishment that feeds us and we become what we receive. This is where we start and where we end. Everything we do, we must draw strength and meaning from here, because here we’re united with Christ on the cross. Here we die with Christ so that we can rise with Christ. Here we are fed and nourished.”

… “I will do my best because I take that definition (of diocese) seriously that this people, you, have been entrusted to my care. And it is an awesome responsibility.”

In a nod to his roots and loving heart, Bishop Duca’s brother, James, sisters, Irene and Rosanne, and his Shreveport secretary, Elaine Gallion, brought up the gifts.

During Mass, Bishop Duca greeted representatives from Catholic ministries from across the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Following the Mass, a reception was held at the Baton Rouge Catholic Life Center. There he greeted the people of Baton Rouge, snapped photos and bid farewell to his friends from the Diocese of Shreveport.

Our prayers continue to be with Bishop Michael Duca as he embraces his new role in our capital city.

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