1218frpeter

Administering in a Climate of Transition and Church Crisis

by Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum, Diocesan Administrator I was standing at the corner of Peacock Lane and Southgates in Leicester, UK, having just visited the recently excavated burial site of King More »

1218antiphons1

O Antiphons

by Kim Long After 18 years of working for the Church, I have deemed Advent the season of quiet desperation. Our Church tells us to be reflective and prepare, while secular society More »

1218harmony

Find Harmony This Holiday Season

by Kelly Phelan Powell Since I was a young girl, I’ve dreamt of the perfect family Christmas morning. My handsome husband and I would spring, totally refreshed, from bed when our beautiful More »

1218fitzgerald

Fitzgerald Named Outstanding Philanthropist

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana On November 7, 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals North Louisiana Chapter hosted their 27th Annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon at the Hilton More »

1218lombard1

Father Lombard Celebrates 65 Years of Priestly Ministry

by John Mark Willcox There are few Catholics who live in Shreveport or Bossier City that have not had their lives affected in a positive way by Fr. Richard Lombard, who celebrates More »

1218immaculateconception

The Immaculate Conception

by Fr. Matthew Long There are countless images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No Catholic Church, hospital, school or home is complete without at least one. Her role in our redemption and More »

1218nativity

Keep Christ at the Center of Your Celebrations

by Katie Sciba I sauntered through the Christmas section of a department store last year, beaming because my heart equates decorations and ornaments with bliss and glee. Ribbons, tiny pine trees and More »

1118yfpriests2

Shreveport Martyrs and the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic

by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White In the late summer of 1873, Shreveport was besieged by the third worst epidemic of Yellow Fever that is recorded in United More »

1118stjosephcem

St. Joseph Cemetery: Remembering & Revitalizing

by Kate Rhea In November of 1882, less than a decade after arriving in Shreveport, Fr. Joseph Gentille, the second pastor of Holy Trinity Church was contemplating a major decision. North Louisiana’s More »

Loyola Students Tutor at St. Joseph School

For five years now, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, members of the Loyola College Prep chapter of the National Honor Society leave school to offer their time and talents to students at St. Joseph Catholic School through an after-school tutoring program that has become a win-win situation for kids on both sides of the books. Loyola NHS students get to share their knowledge with younger students, remind themselves of all they have learned, and serve as positive role models for the students they help. Some of the Loyola students are SJS alums, giving back to the school that played a major role in teaching and guiding them to be the young men and women they are today. NHS sponsor Linda Harris said, “The tutoring program gives the NHS members a chance to connect with younger students and gives both the tutors and their young charges the opportunity to find their wings and develop the courage and strength to fly.” Currently there are 100 members in NHS at Loyola, and nine of them are present to tutor per session.

SJB to Begin STEM Certification

We are proud to announce that St. John Berchmans School will begin the re-accreditation process for AdvancED in the spring. In addition, we will begin the process for STEM Certification. AdvancED STEM Certification is a mark of STEM distinction and excellence for those institutions that are granted the certification. We will be honored to be one of two schools in the state of Louisiana with this distinction.

JGS Participates in the SVdP Walk

On Wednesday, September 26, Jesus the Good Shepherd School hosted the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Friends of the Poor Walk/Run. JGS had a total of 152 students arrive at 7:30 a.m. to run/walk in support of the SVdP charity. We are very proud of our students’ participation and involvement in this wonderful event each year.

Faithful Food: Groans Too Deep for Words

by Kim Long

Last month I received a text message that a woman I had known growing up was killed in an automobile accident. It hit me hard, harder than expected as we were friends, but not “besties,” and with the exception of the great digital gathering place Facebook, I hadn’t laid eyes on her in years. The news set me on my heels and I cried for a good two hours. Later, I puzzled at what I was truly mourning. The answer came from two friends and a cousin: I was mourning “home,” the place where I came into the world, the associations which continue to form me as I move through the days and weeks of my life.

When I consider other things which have had their hand in forming and shaping me, this is how they rank up: family, scripture and church. Those may sound self-explanatory, but things are seldom as simple as first believed. Here is a scripture I read, quite by accident, on the same day I received the unwelcome news of my friend’s death: Paul writes in Romans: “but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.” (8:26).

“Groans too deep for words” blew me away with comfort and wonder. I realized I had felt that feeling a little before in my life, at those liminal moments which define us in our eyes and the eyes of those who hold us. All that day I sat with that text, prayed those words and saw them gathering around me to keep me upright until I could move past my sadness for this latest loss to the bright light we so bravely profess and in which we so fervently hope.

And now we are in November, a truly tricky month combining saints, souls, ghosts, giving thanks, counting blessings and, last but not least, feasting all in one 30 day time frame. November is not so much a month of remembrance, as it is a month of celebrating those memories. There are two Masses on the first and second days of the month to set the tone: All Saints and All Souls. Everyone is covered, so to speak. Oscar Wilde has a wonderful quote “Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.” It’s good to know I have a future!

November also holds the celebration of Thanksgiving, the feast when we take a day and we are still and know that He is God, and in Him all our lives originate. This is the light and hope we pray for, we count on, and in November we recall and remember those who first shared that with us.

What did my friend share with me? I can tell you easily and quickly: life, a sense of “joie de vive,” a delight in being alive! She had long red hair, a huge beautiful smile, and sartorially she could hold her own against anyone choosing bright bold colors over my more modest palette. When I was in fifth grade she strode confidently into the classroom to deliver the daily school bulletin to our teacher, inviting us into the grace in which she lived. We little fifth grade girls soaked it in.

In the week before Thanksgiving I am typically self delusional, believing with an absolutism that I have more hours than I do and I end up clinging to the myth that I work better under pressure so I will do it “tomorrow.” This year I will let go and let Thanksgiving unfold. I will be thankful that I have seen joie de vivre in action, and I will try to let that flow through me.

My sister-in-love, LaJo, gave me this recipe some years ago, and it has been a staple since then. I share it with you now.

May we find peace and joy in our days and may we all throw ourselves into the love of a God whose spirit intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.

La Jo’s Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
• 2 cans (17 oz) green beans
• ¼ chopped onions
• 1 stick butter
• 10 oz package of cream cheese
• 1 can cream of chicken soup
• 1 sleeve of Ritz Crackers

Directions:
1) Warm green beans.

2) In a separate pan, sauté onions in butter until translucent.

3) Stir cream cheese and soup into green beans.

4) Remove onions with slotted spoon and mix with green beans.

5) Crush Ritz crackers and mix with butter.

6) Spread beans into a buttered casserole dish and top with cracker mixture

7) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

In Review: From the Dust of the Earth – Who, Me? by Michelle Chopin

reviewed by Kelly Phelan Powell

Local Catholic author, Michelle Chopin, was inspired to write her first book, From the Dust of the Earth – Who, Me? A Study for Reflection, after a bout with a serious illness. Though she had originally envisioned a manuscript entitled Hopes, Dreams and Realities, it wasn’t until her body “shut down,” as her doctor phrased it, that this busy wife, mother, grandmother and professional was able to spend time discerning the nature and topics of her long-dreamed-of book. What resulted is an uncomplicated yet profound collection of quotes, scriptural quotations, excerpts from sermons and a myriad of other treasures that provide fertile ground for study, reflection, insight and prayer.

From the Dust of the Earth is organized into sections: “Meditations for the Heart and Mind,” “Melodies for the Soul” and “Nourishment for the Mind and Body.” Each section contains “themes,” as Chopin calls them, such as “Creation,” “Gratitude” and “Accomplishment.” Within each of these themes (organized alphabetically so the reader can easily return to any of them for further study) are poems, stories and quotes by a myriad of people ranging from astronomer Carl Sagan to local parish priest, Fr. Karl Daigle. Throughout the book are plenty of lined pages on which the reader can jot down notes and questions, making this an ideal devotional or material for a discussion group.

Within the theme “Journey,” Chopin writes, “Thoughts were streaming, flying, of course not at light speed, but almost. With so much going on inside of me, a real sense of urgency absolutely had developed. I realized I had so much to say, so much to share. Not only thoughts, but also words, phrases, sentences, examples, analogies and themes were coming to mind so fast that at times I actually felt dizzy. I felt excited and enthusiastic to have a writing project.” Her passion is evident throughout From the Dust of the Earth, and it gives her manuscript a sense of the personal nature with which she approached the work of writing and collecting a literal lifetime of wisdom.

One of the things I most enjoyed about From the Dust of the Earth is that the reader is able to approach it in a nonlinear fashion. As a wife and mother of two small children, I frequently find myself in need of copious amounts of encouragement and wisdom, and it was nice to be able to turn to practically any page in this book and find something uplifting and thought-provoking.

The newly-installed Bishop of Baton Rouge, Michael G. Duca, said in a dust-jacket excerpt for the book, “[The] power to inspire is the real gift Mrs. Chopin gives us in this collection of wisdom from her life. I thank her…for reminding me that an attentive spirit can find wisdom and inspiration from many sources: The Bible, for sure, philosophers, parish priests, friends and even, at times, fortune cookies.”

From the Dust of the Earth is available through Amazon.com, or by contacting the author at 318-505-8350, or professorec@bellsouth.net.

Mike’s Meditations: One Commandment is Enough

by Mike Van Vranken

Many of us learned as children that there are Ten Commandments of God. He gave them to Moses for all of us to obey. And, while they may be difficult to keep, our humanity likes commandments or rules. They give us boundaries to live in. Of course, we usually ask for exceptions for each commandment, but we like them just the same.

In one of the gospel stories, someone asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. This man too was looking to make sure he was following the rules. Jesus began by saying: “You know the commandments…” (Matthew 19:16). Of course, in this particular story, Jesus ends by explaining that it’s who we become, not what we do, that really matters. In this case, it is to be a follower of Jesus; be his disciple; that’s who Jesus commanded the man to be.

If we study Jewish history, we learn that they followed around 613 laws or commandments. Wow! That seems like a burden to keep. But again, the more rules we have, the easier it is to say “we are doing it right!” Our egos absolutely LOVE to do it right. So, how confusing it must have been for those attending Jesus’ last supper when he gave them only one commandment to follow. That’s right, only one. He said it twice, but it is the same commandment. Here’s how John the Evangelist quoted Jesus:

“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). “This I command you: love one another” (John 15:17).

One God, one Body of Christ, one people, one commandment. We really don’t have to worry if we are following the seventh commandment, or the fourth commandment or the 612th commandment. There is only one that Jesus left us: “Love one another.” Why have we made it so difficult?

You may be thinking: “But what about loving God above all things with our whole heart, mind and strength?” Didn’t he say that too? Yes, and more than once. But, if we think about it, when we love one another, we are loving the God who lives within us. It is such a reality that Jesus could declare that whenever we do something or neglect to do something to anyone, we are doing it or neglecting to do it to him. How we treat another human being, is exactly how we are treating God at the same time. While the other person is not God, because God’s real presence lives in all of us, whatever we do or don’t do to another person, we do or don’t do to God.

Genesis 1:27 declares that God made humans in His image and likeness. Psalms 8:6 teaches that God made mankind a little less than “elohim.” My Jewish study bible translates “elohim” as “divine.” We are made a little less than divine. So, any way we can understand all of this, our conclusion has to be: when we love another person, we are loving God at the same time.

Jesus makes it very easy for us to follow him: “Love one another.” And, to what degree do we love one another? He goes on to say: “as I have loved you.”

Reading all of these scriptures in prayer recently, I felt an overwhelming sense of awe, but also conviction. I asked God: “In spite of knowing all of these Bible verses, why is it so hard for me to be conscious of you in every other human being on the face of the earth? God, why don’t I always recognize you in others?” Then I sat in the quiet and allowed Him to enlighten me.

He reminded me of Mother Teresa’s words when she was talking about the poor and helpless: “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” He asked me how I would treat others differently, no matter who, if I realized each one was Jesus in disguise. I began thinking of everyone who is different than I am: race, age, gender, philosophically, spiritually, socio-economically, enemy – everyone. We continued to sit quietly for an extended period of time. I could feel myself changing, but would it continue once I was back in my daily routine? I prayed for the grace to be constantly aware that God is not only in all things, He is especially in all people.

In your personal prayer time this month, take Jesus’ one commandment to contemplation and prayer. Ask God for His perspective about “love one another as I have loved you.” Then, sit still in the quiet and wait for His loving and compassionate response. And whatever that response is, pray for the grace to be able to become whoever He is asking you to be. It will change your heart. It will transform your life. And you only have to remember one commandment. It alone is enough.

Protecting Our Children in the Diocese of Shreveport

1118pgc

by Deacon Michael Straub, Safe Environment Coordinator

It is hard to miss all the news in the last couple of months on sex abuse by those placed in a position of trust in the Church. Even though most of these cases are 40 to 70 years old, they still bring strong emotions to the forefront. We are angry for those who were harmed, perplexed on how this could happen, and feel an urgency concerning the safety of our children today.

In 2002, the Diocese of Shreveport established a Safe Environment Program and Sex Abuse Policy, which can be found on the diocese’s website (http://www.dioshpt.org/administration/human-resources/safe-environment-2/), to not only protect our children and vulnerable adults from harm today, but to also address those who wish to report abuse that might have occurred in the past. This is where some confusion arises and questions are asked. What happens when someone wishes to report abuse?

It is important to know that our diocese has published information on how to report abuse. One document already mentioned is our sex abuse policy, or more formally titled Diocesan Policy Concerning Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clerics, Employees or Commissioned Volunteers. This almost 50 page document explains all the processes, procedures and individuals involved in assisting with sex abuse issues reported in our diocese. The full policy can be found on our website at the above mentioned link.

Another document is our one page handout, “Protecting Our Children in the Diocese of Shreveport,” which explains what we do in our diocese to protect children. On the back are clear, simple instructions on reporting a possible sex abuse issue within our Church (see the sidebar). All of our churches and schools are required to have these handouts easily accessible to all who enter our locations.

As these documents state, when reporting a possible child abuse issue, the authorities must ALWAYS be contacted, which in this case would be Child Protection Services. Following this, we ask that the victim or their family to call our Victim Assistance Coordinator. Contact information for CPS and Victim Assistance can be found in the sidebar, as well as on our website and flyer. This allows those who have been harmed to not wait for the courts to decide if there was abuse, but gives them a chance to receive immediate counseling and healing.
Our sex abuse policy calls for the establishment of a Permanent Review Board made up of non-Catholic volunteers who help the diocese in its decision making process for the victim and their families, as well as transparency to the authorities, church communities and the public in general. The victims’ names are not released to the public for confidentiality reasons, but if the claim is credible, then the offender’s name would be released and the diocese would encourage anyone harmed by this individual to come forward to find healing and help.

It is unfortunate that sex abuse occurs in our society, and more so in our churches. We as a Church are called to not only keep children, youth and vulnerable adults safe, but to also reach out to those who have been harmed. Yes, the Church is a place for our souls to be healed, but to also bring comfort and hope to those who struggle in their daily lives with past hurts and pains. Through the hard work of many volunteers, we continue to be the hand and heart to those who are in most desperate need of Christ’s love and healing.

Shroud of Turin: Shroud Experts & Original STURP Team Members Gather at Shreveport’s Cathedral of St. John Berchmans for Special Panel

1018shroud2

by Jessica Rinaudo

On the second weekend in October, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will host an event that’s drawing international attention. Two members of the original 1978 Shroud of Turin Research team (STURP), the project’s president and physicist Dr. John Jackson and photographer Barrie Schwortz, will join other experts in the field on a speakers panel to apply their shared research and expertise with visitors from across the country. The dinner on October 12, will be the anchor for a three-day Shroud of Turin speaking event in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Shroud of Turin Research Project.

In 1978, a team of scientists were granted unprecedented access to the Shroud of Turin. Over the course of five days, the team of scientists and photographers worked non-stop, using various techniques, including infrared spectrometry and thermography, as well as sticky tape samples to analyze the cloth. This was the only research of its kind ever conducted on the Shroud of Turin. The research results were published in peer reviewed scientific journal articles over the course of four years following the team’s work.

Photo of the Shroud of Turin taken by Barrie Schwortz, a member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project, in 1978. Schwortz will be part of a six person expert panel on the Shroud on October 12, 2018, at the Cathedral.

Dr. John Jackson, a physicist, led the original 40-person STURP team. His path to the project was a winding one that began in his early teenage years.
“I was introduced to the Shroud by my mother when I was 13 or 14 years old. She told me that she had a picture of Jesus. … She showed it to me. And my first experience with the Shroud was that I didn’t recognize the image,” said Dr. Jackson. “Suddenly it dawned on me that I was looking at the face and the face was looking right at me. And it was that moment of interaction, that encounter, that little did I know at that point that it was going to change my life,” he said.

Much later in his life, when Dr. Jackson was a graduate student at Colorado State University, he was finishing up his first year of the program, as well as his time in the Air Force ROTC program. “During spring break I was in a mountain cabin, and I read a book that was loaned to me by one of my other graduate student friends – a book on the Shroud, it was by John Walsh. It talked about the kind of science that could be done on the Shroud. Little did I know that when I was reading that, this was in 1968, that 10 years later I’d be in a position to actually do those studies.”

Dr. Jackson added, “When I arrived back at Colorado State University, I had every intention of finishing up my Master’s degree in Physics there. I told my professor that I would like to do a project, a thesis, on the Shroud of Turin. Of course, he had no idea what that was. When I explained it to him, I think he didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.”
But the idea and project never materialized at that time and place. Several days later, Dr. Jackson received a phone call from the Air Force inviting him to attend naval postgraduate school to receive a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering Effects, and then ultimately a PhD in General Relativity and Cosmology. Following that he became a scientist at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM, and taught physics at the Air Force Academy.

“It was during that time period that I was able to do something I had wanted to do back at Colorado State University. I wanted to explore the relationship of image intensity to cross body distance,” said Dr. Jackson.

He was able to analyze the Shroud of Turin using this technique, producing a 3D relief of a body. “It showed something very fundamental that science can sink its teeth into regarding the Shroud. This discovery was of such a nature that it immediately began to interest scientists,” he said.

This was the catalyst that launched two years of preparation for the Shroud of Turin Research Project, which came to fruition in 1978.

As the president of STURP, Dr. Jackson made the main decisions regarding what would be done during their time there. He worked on the scientific protocols, administration of the research and how to solve scientific issues related to the project.

“We learned a tremendous amount about the Shroud. .. Five days working around the clock with 30 people with very good scientific credentials lead to a very strong data characterization of the Shroud, which we have been using ever since to put together hypotheses of trying to understand what exactly we have here,” said Dr. Jackson.

Rebecca Jackson is married to Dr. John Jackson, and is a longtime convert to Christianity from Orthodox Judaism. She runs the The Shroud Center Exhibit Presentation Center in Colorado, and also conducts her own research into the First Century Jewish aspects of the Shroud.

“I grew up Orthodox Jewish in Brooklyn, New York, and I’m a descendant of Holocaust survivors. I started coming to Christianity in the middle of high school, a Jewish Orthodox high school. So I was a Catholic in my heart for many years – since about 1963.”

Rebecca spent many years abroad teaching in Israel before returning to the U.S. and joining the Army. In 1987, she officially converted to Christianity, all before she had ever met Dr. Jackson. In 1990, she saw a video called The Silent Witness, and Dr. Jackson was featured in the film. She eventually met up with John and began working on Jewish aspects of the Shroud of Turin in 1990. Two years later, the two were married.

“From 1963, I’ve been studying ethnology,” said Rebecca. “In order to understand the Shroud, you have to understand Jewish ethnology. I was made for that because of my background.”

Her Jewish and Christian background combined with her studies in ethnology and global trade, bring a unique perspective to Shroud of Turin research.

Together Dr. John and Rebecca Jackson will give a free presentation on the Shroud of Turin on Saturday, October 13 at the Cathedral. They will also join in on the Friday night panel discussion.

Barrie Schwortz was the photographer for the 1978 STURP project. He visited Shreveport in March of this year and delivered a talk on his experience to more than 600 people. He is returning for STURP’s 40th anniversary, the first time in many years that he and Dr. Jackson have reunited. During his visit this past March, Schwortz talked about his experience being up close and photographing the Shroud of Turin.

“I started looking for paint pigment binders, any indication of any artwork,” said Schwortz. “Now I’m not an authority on that subject, but I have good eyes and I had total access to the Shroud, no glass or anything in between. My nose was an inch from that cloth and I was looking at it and looking down in between the fibers because paint pigment binders are going to be visible. They’re not going to disappear and just leave an image.”

He continued, “And so I knew probably within 10 or 15 minutes of the Shroud being unveiled that whatever it was, it wasn’t a painting.”

Schwortz photographed the Shroud of Turin over those five days, and his now famous photographs have been published in national publications across the globe. He also runs Shroud.com, which remains a go to point for enthusiasts and the curious alike, boasting more than a million visitors a year.

Schwortz will be part of the panel discussion on Friday evening.

Russ Breault has no direct tie to STURP, but instead became interested in the Shroud of Turin while he worked for his college newspaper in 1980. Following STURP in 1978, articles began rolling out about the research project and the Shroud, and so he asked if he could write a couple of stories on the Shroud for his college newspaper.

“I spent a lot of time researching for that and did a lot of reading and talked to some of the scientists on the phone to get quotes. So by the time the articles ran in the fall of 1980, I was hooked. I thought, ‘Man, this is an incredible mystery.’ And so, it just kind of became my life’s work,” said Breault.

He began doing small presentations on the Shroud of Turin, and his work continued to grow. In 1997, he incorporated the Shroud Education Project. Since that time he’s spoken at numerous conferences and appeared in several nationally televised documentaries including Mysteries of the Ancient World on CBS. Most recently, he appeared in the highly acclaimed, Uncovering the Face of Jesus —a two-hour documentary on The History Channel.

Breault’s fascination with the Shroud is wrapped up in its possibility. “If the Shroud was the work of an artist, we would have figured that out 100 years ago. All it takes is a magnifying glass to see the paint…. Scientists never found any visible trace of any kind of paint pigment, dye stain, no substances that would have been used by an alleged artist…. You can’t just simply say that this is some medieval hoax, because at this point, we still have not been able to fully replicate it.”

Beault’s presentation, “CSI Jerusalem” is presented much like the beloved TV show, slowly unveiling clues about the Shroud of Turin, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. His presentation will be on Thursday, October 11, at 6:00 p.m. at the Cathedral. It is a free event. He will also join Friday night’s panel discussion.

Bringing a wealth of knowledge, experience and insight to the panel discussion, both Father Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, Diocesan Administrator and Judicial Vicar, and Dr. Cheryl White, Associate Professor of History at LSU-Shreveport, will be part of the event as well. Together they have launched the extremely successful and globally listened to Man of the Shroud podcast series. Both are members of the American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud. In April of this year, both Fr. Mangum and Dr. White were granted access to the Vatican Secret Archives for further research related to the Shroud. Fr. Mangum is curator of the new Shroud Exhibit located at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Dr. White has studied the Shroud of Turin the entirety of her academic career, with a special interest in the Shroud’s so-called “Missing Years,” of 1204-1355.

Dr. and Mrs. Jackson, Schwortz, Breault, Fr. Mangum and Dr. White, will join their experience, intellect and insight to produce a once in a lifetime event at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. See page 15 for details of the weekend’s events, and visit sjbcathedral.org to purchase tickets.

Bishop Duca Installed in Baton Rouge Shreveport Bids Him Farewell

1018duca1

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.

Kids’ Connection: Guardian Angels

Click to download and print this month’s KIDS CONNECTION.