By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator 

“He’s a man who’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get to work until the job is done,” said Jean Dresley, refugee resettlement director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge in describing Bishop-designate Michael G. Duca, who has been appointed by the Vatican to replace retiring Bishop Robert W. Muench.  


Bishop-designate Michael G. Duca (right) greets employees at the conclusion of a June 26 press conference announcing that Pope Francis appointed him the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. He is pictured speaking to (left, from front) Michael Miller, assistant superintendent of schools of the Diocese of Baton Rouge; his daughter, Julia, a rising freshman at St. Michael High School in Baton Rouge; and C.J. Roy, disaster recovery supervisor for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  Photos by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator  


Dresley worked with Bishop-designate Duca in establishing Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Shreveport. She served as executive director there from 2010-2016 before she and her husband moved to Baton Rouge.  

“It was a holy time,” said Dresley, saying that Bishop-designate Duca “has a heart for the marginalized.” 

In an effort to better serve the people in the Shreveport Diocese, which is 11,129 square miles, a satellite office for Catholic Charities was opened in Monroe in 2016. 

Dresley said her phone “blew up” from the number of phone calls from people after it was announced that Bishop-designate Duca was appointed as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. 

“I am thrilled,” said Dresley. “I have so much respect and admiration for him. He’s a fantastic shepherd.”  

She noted that the bishop-designate put an “incredible amount of mileage on his car” to visit the parishes and people of the Diocese of Shreveport.  

“He’s very serious about getting around and being a real presence to them,” said Dresley.  

She further pointed out that Bishop-designate Duca is a man who respects the talents of the people whom he works with and “lets them do what they do best.”  

At the conclusion of the press conference announcing his appointment at the Catholic Life Center on June 26, Bishop-designate Duca personally shook hands with and talked to diocesan employees who were present to greet him.  

He left a good first impression on many employees who occasionally saw him in the past or met him for the first time.  

“I have met Bishop (designate) Duca at different meetings before. He seems so warm, welcoming and approachable. I see how he connects with people so well,” said Linda Fjeldsjo, coordinator of the Prison Ministry Office and St. Joseph Homes.  

“I am excited for the incarcerated as they hopefully get to meet him – that he will continue the traditions of the bishop visiting them,” she added.  

She was also encouraged as she looked around at the representatives of the various ministries in the diocese who welcomed the bishop-designate and expressed their enthusiasm for the work going on in the diocese.  

“There’s just a lot of excitement,” said Fjeldsjo.  


From left, Father Michael Alello, pastor of St. Thomas More Church in Baton Rouge, Father David Allen, pastor of Holy Family Church in Port Allen and Father Patrick Broussard, parochial vicar of St. Thomas More, welcome Bishop-designate Michael G. Duca to the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  Photos by Richard Meek|The Catholic Commentator 


Dina Dow, director of the Office of Evangelization for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, said, “He (Bishop-designate Duca) has a great sense of humor, humility and service. I think this is a great opportunity for him personally to walk into the doors of a diverse, vibrant diocese.”  

She said the bishop-designate conveyed his support and enthusiasm for evangelization in his comments and looks forward to working with him in proclaiming the Gospel Message.  

Darryl Ducote, director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life, also liked Bishop-designate Duca’s personal greeting of employees at the press conference.  

“I was very impressed with how personable he was and how pastoral he was in his concern for people,” said Ducote.  

“I was also inspired by his intent to reach out to all the difference cultures in the diocese, especially when he offered his welcoming comments to the Hispanics in Spanish.”  

He was also encouraged by Bishop-designate Duca’s recognition of the importance of families in south Louisiana culture.  

“It’s assuring that he will be supportive of the outreach and programs our office offers,” Ducote said.  Ducote said the bishop-designate’s meeting with the people indicates that his support of the “pastoral needs for the people will filter to all the ministries of the church, both ordained and lay.” 


Bishop-designate Michael G. Duca shakes hands with Barry Schoedel, associate director of the Office of Evangelization for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, while Dina Dow, director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, looks on. It was the first time the bishop-designate met employees of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. 


Bishop-designate Duca speaks with diocesan employees following his first press conference after being appointed by Pope Francis as the sixth bishop for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.