The Catholic Life Center is the official headquarters of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Bishop Robert E. Tracy attended all of the sessions of the Second Vatican Council which convened shortly after his installation. One of the many innovative ideas he brought back was the construction of a building created in the spirit of Vatican II.  

His vision for the building was to become the focal point of the diocese. The architect for the Catholic Life Center was Desmond Miremont & Associates, with John A. Bani and J. Roy Haase, associate architects. The Life Center opened on Jan. 4, 1967 and received an Honor Award at the Gulf States Regional Conference of the American Institute of Architects that same year.  

Vatican II emphasized the social and community aspect of living a truly Christian life. The Catholic Life Center was designed with not only administrative offices but with various facilities for community functions and programs. Bishop Tracy envisioned a place where all members of the diocese and the community could gather for a multitude of events. There are meeting areas for groups of all sizes, a large dining hall, smaller dining rooms, a well-equipped kitchen, theater-style auditorium, two chapels and the bishop’s residence. At the heart of the complex is Christ Court, a large covered outdoor pavilion that can handle as many as 3,000 people. 

Originally, the complex included St. Joseph Cathedral Prep School, a four-year high school for boys interested in pursuing a vocation to the priesthood. When the school closed, the facility was renovated to serve the ongoing spiritual formation and educational needs of the diocese and renamed the Bishop Robert E. Tracy Center. It is also available to secular organizations in the community.  

200 years.pdf

In 2000, a new Catholic Community Services office building, the Westerfield Conference Center and an overnight retreat center were completed on the campus. Since then, Catholic Life TV, a full-time TV station owned by the diocese, has been added to the Catholic Life Center complex. Early in 2018, a new archives building and priests’ residence are scheduled to be completed.  

The Catholic Life Center is located in the heart of Baton Rouge at 1800 South Acadian Thruway. It can be reached in about an hour from the farthest areas of the diocese, making it truly centrally located. It remains 50 years later, just as it was envisioned by our first bishop, as the focal point of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

Richard is the assistant archivist for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.