Diocese of Baton Rouge
Do you know that the number of Catholic people in Baton Rouge is only 218,846 out of the entire population of 870,624? However, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has grown from its humble beginnings to consist of two University chapels, two ethnic apostolates, and sixty-eight parishes.
The history of the Diocese of Baton Rouge speaks about the somewhat unpopular yet laudable efforts of the French missionaries. In the early 18th century, Capuchin Franciscans and French Jesuits took the responsibility of preaching the Gospel in the Mississippi River. Over the years, churches were built as people started settling in. The region’s earliest permanent church was the St. Francis Chapel of Pointe Coupee. This structure was erected in 1728, and continues to stand to this very day.
The Diocese of New Orleans began early, dating back to 1793. However, it faced the clergy-shortage problem for several years. Baton Rouge was very lucky to have a resident priest most of the time. Although it has seen a lot of difficulties in the 1800’s, the early part of the 20th century signaled the growth of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
The city’s growth in political, social, and industrial aspects signifies a huge increase in its population as well. The Diocese of Baton Rouge encompassed a single parish in 1900, nine in 1950, and fifteen in 1960. Mission chapels slowly turned into parishes in the rural parts of the Diocese of Baton Rouge when resident priests became more available.
The Diocese of Baton Rouge was recognized as independent from the Archdiocese of New Orleans by Blessed Pope John XXIII on the 20th of July 1961. The Holy Father further appointed See city’s St. Joseph Church, which was restored several times, as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. During its first year of operation, the city’s total population of 464,904 has 164,476 Diocese members, according to the Census Bureau of the United States.
Right now, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge occupies an area of more than 5,500 square miles. It is made up of twelve parishes, namely: East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Ascension, Livingston, St. James, St Helena, Tangipahoa, Iberville, Point Coupee, and Assumption, all of which are in south central of Louisiana. Under the supervision of Bishop Robert William Muench, along with the help of ninety-six female religious and 113 priests, the Diocese of Baton Rouge is definitely making waves especially in its aim to be a model ministry to the young generations.