By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator

Parishioners, visitors and guests at Immaculate Conception Church in Baton Rouge were greeted by smiling ushers as they walked through the massive glass foyer flooded with sunshine on Dec. 15  for a special Mass for the blessing of the church celebrated by Bishop Michael G. Duca, with assistance of Bishop Emeritus Robert W. Muench, 13 priests from the Diocese of Baton Rouge and several deacons.

 

“People really love it,” said pastor Father Tom Clark. “They’re very happy with the renovation. They find it very beautiful and are very proud of it.”

One year after the project began, the church is finished.

Bishop Duca blesses and incenses the altar of Immaculate Conception Church in Baton Rouge.

 

Everything is new, from air conditioning and heating to wiring, plumbing, lighting, flooring and furnishings. There are even new spaces including restrooms, storage, sacristy and chancel area. 

“I cried the first time I got on the organ,” recalled Nina Gray, the Gospel choir director. “Just to hear the acoustics and just to be in the new church, it was a spiritual moment for me.”

Gray said the “highlight” for her is having the choir located on the same level as the altar. 

“Our ministry is even more meaningful because we are up here on the altar,” she added.

“We just love the renovation, it is fabulous. We’re so proud of what they did,” said parishioner Rogers Jackson.

Project manager and Immaculate Conception parishioner Ron Lewis said he met with architect Craig Sauviac and the contractor weekly and was able to finish on time. 

“This is my first and only church, I’m used to building chemical plants but I’m impressed – I did a good job if I say so myself,” laughed Lewis. 

At the beginning of the Mass, the bishop, along with Father Clark and several other priests blessed the congregation and walls with holy water.

“Father Tom, parishioners of Immaculate Conception – Beautiful! Beautiful!” said Bishop Duca during his homily as the congregation broke into a thunderous applause. “When I look at this, I see beauty but I see something that’s even more important because this doesn’t happen. This building doesn’t come alive unless it’s built by living stones, and this church is what it is today because faith is alive at Immaculate Conception.”

Bishop Duca blessed and incensed the altar, the congregation and the space of the church. The altar was then dressed by parishioners before the liturgy of the Eucharist by the bishop.

The 66-year-old church was originally dedicated on Dec. 13, 1953. Now, a new church, newly blessed welcomes the future, thanks to the current members.

“It was all due to the generosity and the dedication of the parishioners,” said Father Clark. “They supported this project fully and were extremely generous.” 

 

Priests from the Diocese of Baton Rouge make their way to the new front entrance of Immaculate Conception Church in Baton Rouge for a Mass to bless the church. The Mass was followed by a reception in the parish hall. Photos by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator

 

The renovations included a large chancel area which makes room for the choir and musicians.

 

Members of the Knights of St. Peter Claver line up as they await the start of the Mass. Bishop Michael G. Duca and Bishop Emeritus Robert W. Muench along with 13 priests and several deacons concelebrated the Mass.

 

 

Pastor Father Tom Clark presents parishioner Ron Lewis with an award for his work on the church renovation. Lewis was the project manager and met every week with the architect and contractor to finish the work on schedule, one year later.

Bishop Duca and Father Clark bless the congregation with holy water at the beginning of Mass.

Parishioners dressed the altar after Bishop Duca blessed it.