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With the installation ceremony behind him, Bishop Duca is looking ahead

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BATON ROUGE – It was a grand celebration at Saint Joseph Cathedral Friday afternoon. Bishop Michael Duca officially became the sixth bishop for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Now the work starts. Bishop Duca says the nerves are gone and he’s relieved the installation ceremony is over.

“I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go,” said Bishop Duca. “On Monday we'll find out what’s on the schedule, start to meet people and get the lay of the land.”

The Bishop, who came to the city from Shreveport, was surrounded by hundreds at the Cathedral. He says the community is already inspiring him.

“I've begun to fall in love with the people here, they're so excited and enthusiastic.”

But, he knows there is work to be done.

“We have a core belief, and some things have to change in order to continue this mission,” Bishop Duca said.

In the past year, the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has been dealing with a shortage of priests. Multiple churches have had to shut their doors, merging with another one.

“The best thing to do is for the churches to grow so we can get more priests, but we'll do what we need to do to keep the parishes alive,” Bishop Duca said. “It may mean sharing ministers, I know."

It's a nation-wide issue the Bishop will be taking on. Those who saw him officially accept his new role are confident he'll make the right decisions.

"I think he'll be able to look at issues realistically and deal with them, and that's something that we need. So I'm hopeful,” Traci Schott said.

Bishop Duca is taking the place of Bishop Robert Muench who is retiring at the age of 75. Muench was at the ceremony Friday, and as he left, everyone in the church started to graciously applaud.

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