LAKE PLACID – When a new, bronze altar of sacrifice is put into place Friday, it will mark the end of renovations and the beginning of a brighter feeling inside the historic St. Agnes Catholic Church.
A project totaling $700,000 of work and labor on the interior of the church began on April 1. Since then, Mass has been held across Hillcrest Drive in the St. Agnes School gymnasium. On Saturday, the parish congregation will gather again in the church with Ogdensburg Diocese Bishop Terry LaValley celebrating the Mass as the new work is dedicated.
Highlights of the renovations include new flooring with radiant heating; new lighting, ventilation and sound systems; electrical upgrades, an expanded sanctuary, and a wider, more open area at the front of the church. Painting has also been done, including a immense mural on the ceiling depicting the Great Range of the Adirondack Mountains. That painting was done by Massachusetts artist Geoffrey Kostecki, who worked around the stained glass “Window of the Ascension,” which stands out high above the sanctuary.
“People are going to feel very comfortable here,” said the Rev. John Yonkovig, pastor of St. Agnes since 2010. “The church is significantly brighter, and we are really pleased that much of the artwork was done by people who live right here in Lake Placid. It’s been a big job, and we were fortunate to have some very generous contributions.”
As visitors enter the church, they will pass by another new addition, a baptismal font carved out of Adirondack granite by Lake Placid native and sculptor Tyler Rand. Portions of the low marble altar rail that runs along the sanctuary were removed and recycled. One piece is now the base of the font, and another has been incorporated into a new devotional area on the right side of the church. A large cross donated to the parish by William B. McElroy was moved from the left side of the church to the devotional area, which is complete with traditional vigil candles and a spot for people to pray.
Yonkovig said he was amazed that all the work was completed in such a short amount of time. One of the biggest parts of the job was removing, storing and replacing all the pews in the church, he said. Taking out the seating enabled new flooring – including a porcelain center aisle – to be installed, and the existing hardwood floor under the pews to be rejuvenated.
“The hardwood floors are from 1924, and they were sanded over five times,” Yonkovig said. “By the time Casey Gadwaw finished, he told me that he had sanded 26 miles of boards. That’s just incredible.”
The bronze altar, which when installed will complete the interior renovations, was designed and built by Robert Eccleston of Lake Placid. Its base consists of two inter-connected trees that Yonkovig said “represent the divinity and humanity of Christ.”
Saturday’s Mass to bless the altar and celebrate the reopening of the church begins at 5:30 p.m.