By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator 

The installation ceremony for Bishop-designate Michael G. Duca is steeped in tradition and one that is marked by its beauty, symbolism and acknowledgement of the past by linking it to the future, according to Father Tom Ranzino, vicar general for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

Bishop-designate Duca will be installed on Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge.  

“There are a lot of moving parts (in the ceremony); however, they fit together well,” Father Ranzino said. “They really comment on who we are as a church. The crucified Christ who greets Bishop Duca is also the resurrected Christ that we proclaim at the eucharistic table that will both console and inspire Bishop Duca.”  

The Rite of Installation, which comes from the Ceremonial of Bishops, quite simply begins with a knock on the door from Bishop-designate Duca, perhaps the most dramatic of the symbolic components of the ceremony. The knock comes after the initial procession  of priests, deacons, ministers, servers, bishops and archbishops, with the congregation singing “Lift High the Cross.”  

Also precluding Bishop-designate Duca’s knocking on the door is a second procession that will include Bishop Robert W. Muench, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States, Deacon Ed Gauthreaux, Deacon Tim Grimes, as well as individuals carrying a crucifix, an empty water bowl and two servers holding candles.  

Those in the second procession will gather at the rear of the church, at which time the music will stop and Bishop-designate Duca, using a rubber-headed mallet, will knock at the door of the cathedral. Two hospitality ministers will open the doors and Bishop-designate Duca will walk in, wearing his mitre but not carrying the crosier, which, at that point, will be carried by Archbishop Aymond.  

Father Ranzino said the knock is the bishop-designate saying “ ’I’m here. I’d like to come in.’ It’s a way of literally saying we welcome you who are at the door.  

“In a beautiful way he comes to us knocking at the door. And there to greet him at the door will be all of us.”  

After entering but before processing to the altar, Bishop-designate Duca kisses the crucifix. He will also sign himself with water taken from the baptismal font that will be presented to him in the water bowl.  

“The purpose (of kissing the cross) is to remind him of whose mission he serves,” Father Ranzino said. “He signs himself with water as a reminder to him and all of us that it is in the waters of baptism that we were first claimed by God.  

“And it is out of his baptismal call that he is available to serve in his ministry of bishop for the sake of the church.”  

Archbishop Aymond will initially sit in the presider’s chair on the altar at the beginning of the ceremony, and Bishop Muench will be to his left and Msgr. Erbi to his right. Bishop-designate Duca will be seated on a bench against a wall near the sacristy.  

Once everyone is in place, the opening song, which once again will be “Lift High the Cross,” will stop and Bishop Muench will offer the greeting and go to where Bishop-designate Duca is seated to officially greet him. Bishop-designate Duca will stand and say, “Praise be God the father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

Archbishop Aymond will then introduce Msgr. Erbi, who will be carrying the Apostolic Letter of Appointment, also known as the Papal Bull. The Papal Bull is the official document from Pope Francis appointing Bishop-Designate Duca as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

Msgr. Erbi will say, “let it be shown, let it be read,” and then present the Papal Bull to chancellor Father Paul Yi. The College of Consultors will proceed to the altar to view the document, and it will also be shown to the congregation before being placed at a table on the altar.  

After that is completed, Archbishop Aymond, carrying the crosier, will come down from the presider’s chair to meet Msgr. Erbi. During that time, Bishop Muench will rise and go stand next to Bishop-designate Duca.  

Archbishop Aymond and Msgr. Erbi will then usher Bishop-designate Duca to the presider’s chair, and Archbishop Aymond will present the bishop-designate with the crosier, which is the original crosier used by Bishop Robert E. Tracy during his installation as the founding bishop of the diocese in 1961. Once seated in the chair and presented the crosier, Bishop-designate Duca will officially be the new bishop.  

Archbishop Aymond and Msgr. Erbi will then join Bishop Muench on the bench where Bishop-designate Duca was previously seated, where they will remain for the remainder of the celebration.  

Once seated, representatives of the priests, deacons and several ministries will come to the altar and briefly greet the new bishop.  

At that point, Father Ranzino said the ceremony continues as the Liturgy of the Eucharist is celebrated by who will then officially be Bishop Duca.  

“I find (the ceremony) a really nice balance of strategic symbol making,” Father Ranzino said. “I really love the fact this is the crosier (Bishop Tracy) used when (he) was installed (as the first bishop of the diocese).”  

The first reading, which is from Revelations, will be read in Spanish, and the second, which comes from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, will be read in French. The Gospel reading, which will be from St. John’s Gospel, will be read in English.  

The universal prayers response will be in English, French and Vietnamese.  

“Our attempt is to make this as inclusive as we can because the church itself is a variety of people,” Father Ranzino said.  

Plenary indulgences will be granted to those who have confessed their sins and received Communion, Father Ranzino said.  

“By the doing of these ritual acts we are speaking loudly something in many ways is deeper than words,” he added. “We are a worldwide church yet we are directly connected to Francis our pope. We are a church rooted in our baptism. And in that baptism we are all one.  

“If somebody comes and they are not Catholic and they are just looking, they’re going to be surprised how the music comments on what we’re doing, how visually we will participate with your eyes, our ears. There will be a lot of movement and probably some surprises.”