LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid’s Olympic Center was transformed into a house of worship Sunday as the Diocese of Ogdensburg welcomed Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
More than 1,000 people from across the region gathered at the Olympic Arena for a diocesan solemn mass at which Pope Francis’ personal representative to the country was the principal celebrant.
“This is the first time this particular nuncio has been here, so it’s special,” the event’s chancellor, communications director and planner Sister Jennifer Votraw of Watertown’s Sisters of Saint Joseph, told the Press-Republican before the service.
The mass was to celebrate the conclusion of the Year of Faith, which was called for byPope Benedict XVI with the purpose of encouraging Christians to rediscover their faith with renewed enthusiasm.
The voices of 300 choir members from throughout the diocese sang out as members of the diocese’s Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters, as well as priests and deacons, altar servers, elected officials, ministers of other faiths and Bishop Terry LaValley led Viganò down the center of the arena to an altar lined with yellow mums.
Also performing at the service were the Potsdam Brass Quintet and a youth choir comprising teens from Clinton County.
“Archbishop, we feel so honored and are truly grateful that you are here,” LaValley said in front of the crowd at the start of the service. “The Catholic Church in the United States has a humble servant of God as its papal nuncio ... we know that we are not easy to get to, but you found us, and through your holy and gentle presence, we know of Pope Francis’s deep care and loving concern for all of us.”
He welcomed Viganò to the diocese, eliciting cheers and applause from the audience when he told the archbishop, “welcome to God’s country.”