SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The outgoing bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shreveport made his departure official to its 40 thousand members at a news conference this Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday the Vatican announced that Pope Francis appointed Bishop Michael Duca to be the next bishop of Baton Rouge, a diocese nearly 6 times larger than Shreveport.
"I want to first of all again, today, thank our Holy Father Pope Francis for the confidence he has shown me in naming me the sixth bishop of Baton Rouge," began Bishop Duca, as he started the news conference.
Bishop Duca detailed his appointment to the Baton Rouge Diocese, signaling the imminent end of Duca's 10 years service in the Shreveport Diocese.
"While I am sad to leave the good people of the Diocese of Shreveport, I accepted the appointment without reservation because I see this is in the will of God for me as well as the will of God for the Diocese of Shreveport and for Baton Rouge."
Some parishioners say they're upset Bishop Duca is leaving. "Sometimes Catholics feel orphaned. And, we rely on our bishop as our chief shepherd, as our leader," Shreveport Diocese Public Relations Director John Mark Willcox.
As for what happens next at the Shreveport Diocese, we're told they're hoping to have a new bishop installed by the end of the year if possible, but cautioned it could take longer. In fact, the previous departure led to 18 months with no bishop.
In the meantime, the more than three dozen priests of the Shreveport Diocese will appoint a temporary administrator, once Bishop Duca is installed in the Baton Rouge Diocese, scheduled for Friday, August 24th.
And not having a bishop will present its own set of challenges. "It's hard to raise funds when you don't have a bishop. But there's some other aspects. We may need to name a new pastor somewhere or things of that nature. And they'll have to wait until we get a bishop in place," explained Willcox.
Duca is only the second bishop ever of the Shreveport Diocese. As for his lasting legacy, he pointed to the work of Catholic Charities and its outreach services to the poor.
Bishop Duca will succeed Bishop Robert Muench, who is retiring. Duca will be the sixth bishop of Baton Rouge. Muench served as bishop of Baton Rouge for the past 16 years.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Duca has been the bishop of Shreveport for the last decade and he's been a priest for 40 years.