The Catholic Commentator

The Diocese of Baton Rouge is already making plans as to how to welcome whomever is appointed to replace outgoing Bishop Robert W. Muench, who sent in his retirement letter to the Vatican on Dec. 28, as required by Canon Law, on his 75th birthday.

A New Bishop Committee has been formed and recently held its first meeting, although the announcement of a new bishop, which will come from the Vatican, is likely months away, according to diocesan officials.

The new committee is addressing a wide range of issues traditionally associated with welcoming a new bishop. Among the topics to be covered include invitations, including design and who will be invited to the actual installation; logistics; communications; care of guests, which includes transportation of guests to and from the airports, hotel reservations, food and security; programs; the liturgy for the installation as well as vespers that would include the first meeting with diocesan priests before the installation; the coat of arms; an installation budget; and the new bishop’s residence.

The installation, which traditionally has been celebrated at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge, will not be open to the public because of space considerations, bur the planning process also includes a reception where the new bishop will greet the public. The incoming bishop does have the option of choosing where to celebrate his installation, and could possibly include a larger venue.

A new priest’s residence is currently under construction adjacent to the new archives building, which is being built at the same time. The new residence is expected to be completed in late May or early June.

Although Bishop Muench submitted his letter of resignation, he remains with “full power and authority” until his successor is announced, said Father Counce, judicial vicar for the diocese. Father Counce said the complex process would likely take several months.

After the Vatican announces the new bishop, the transition is typically about two months, although circumstances, including if the person appointed is a sitting bishop, could alter that schedule one way or the other.