Even as the celebration of the first 50 years of the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge continues, church leaders are thinking about the celebration for the next 50 years.
At 9 a.m. Friday, the diocese will conduct a ceremony to bury a time capsule in Christ Court of the Catholic Life Center, 1800 S. Acadian Thruway.
Friday is the anniversary of the signing by Pope John XXIII of the Papal Decree establishing the Diocese of Baton Rouge on July 22, 1961.
The plan is for the diocese to open the time capsule on July 22, 2061.
“Dedicating the time capsule in one way gives us a chance to reflect on the first 50 years of the diocese and in another way to say, ‘Hello,’ to the diocese of 50 years from now,” noted the Rev. Tom Ranzino.
Ranzino, pastor of St. Jean Vianney Catholic Church, chancellor of the diocese and director of the diocese’s office of worship, has been involved in the planning of the jubilee year activities.
Bishop Robert W. Muench, fifth bishop of the diocese, will preside at the time capsule ceremony, but Catholics from all across the diocese have been preparing for the event.
Parishes, Catholic schools and other institutions in the diocese were encouraged to share something about themselves with future generations by contributing pages for a jubilee scrapbook to be placed in the time capsule.
“The scrapbook is an amazing depiction of the individual stories of the parishes, schools and departments,” said Lisa Lewis, associate archivist, Diocese of Baton Rouge. “We are hopeful the scrapbook will give true insight into our life as a diocese to those who peer into it on our 100th anniversary in 2061.”
Ranzino said some of the pages include photos of people important to the history of individual parishes or organizations, while other pages emphasize accomplishments or other historic events.
“It’s a way of saying, ‘Here’s where we’ve been, and here’s our hope for the future,” the priest said. “We will be able to tell the church in 50 years, this is how we have been spending our time. ‘What’s different now?’ That becomes the question for the church in 50 years.”
The scrapbook is being kept at the diocese archives, where people can view it for now, and a copy is being made which will be available even after the original is placed in the time capsule, Ranzino said.
In addition to the scrapbook, the time capsule will include a 50th anniversary pin, 50th anniversary video, 50th anniversary opening Mass program, 50th anniversary issue of the Catholic Commentator and 50th anniversary Diocesan directory as well as these books: “Roots of Faith: History of the Diocese of Baton Rouge” by Emilie G. Leumas and Renee B. Richard, “Letters from Rome” by Stanley Joseph Ott, “Spiritual Masters: Living a Life of Prayer in the Catholic Tradition” by Bishop Alfred Hughes, “American Bishop at the Vatican Council” by Bishop Robert E. Tracy.
The anniversary celebration will conclude in the fall with a Mass at 3 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the River Center, where representatives of all parishes will process into the building.
Ranzino said the year-long celebration, themed “Born in Spirit of Faith,” has given Catholics of the diocese an opportunity to reflect on their diocese and pray regularly for it.
In the fall, students at diocese elementary schools, high schools and religious education programs will participate in a curriculum about what is a diocese and what is a cathedral, Ranzino added.
Also, parishes of the diocese have contributed to a patchwork quilt project led by Catherine Hymel and Maureen Naquin from Our Lady Queen of Peace in Vacherie, the priest said.