By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator

At the Chapel of Divine Providence on the Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, before an overflow crowd that included people sitting in chairs set up in the vestibule, Bishop Michael G. Duca welcomed the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to the Diocese of Baton Rouge during a Mass on Nov. 26.  

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Bishop Michael G. Duca blesses the new chapel at the Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge on Nov. 26. After the dedication Mass celebrated by the bishop, he blessed several buildings on the Cypress Springs campus.  Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator  

 

“Our prayer today is that we come here to this place to welcome the full power and strength and beauty of the Mercedarian Sisters into our diocese,” said Bishop Duca during his homily.  

In April 2001, Sister Dulce Maria came to Baton Rouge to begin her ministry, which grew into Cypress Springs, a sprawling campus that includes a convent, chapel, ministry building, kitchen and dining hall, meditation trails and Dolphin Room, used for gatherings.  

“It’s a promise that’s been kept by Papa,” said Sister Dulce, referring to a promise from God regarding the prayer center. “He said it would happen and here it is. He always keeps his word. And I’m excited and grateful.”  

Bishop Duca was joined by 14 priests, along with several deacons and seminarians, the majority from the Diocese of Baton Rouge, for a ceremony that included a blessing of the altar.  

The bishop said as he reflected on the day, he was reminded of the parable of the sowing of seeds and how the seeds planted in good soil were able to take root and grow.  

“And some years ago, seeds were cast in our diocese,” said Bishop Duca. “They grew quietly. Things that grow quietly and slowly put down deep roots. The plant continued to grow and found a bigger pot to grow in, a really nice pot, and it was well fed and watered, and it continued to grow. Quietly it began to bring God’s mercy, love, forgiveness and healing to the people of our diocese … And when the time came, to plant it in the full garden of the diocese, allowing it to put down its deepest roots.” 

The bishop noted the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament belong to an order that’s been around for 800 years. He acknowledged that history brought a “great source of wisdom and strength” to the diocese.  

He added that the sisters also bring youth in their order, which is continuing to grow.  

“It (prayer center) took a long time to build, a long time to work with the people and get the right people in the ministry,” said Sister Dulce.  

Following the Mass, Bishop Duca and the clergy, followed by the congregation, blessed the buildings and grounds of the campus. The event ended with a reception in the dining hall.