Valley Catholics welcome new Bishop

FRESNO, Calif.

The installation of the new bishop is a two day affair beginning Wednesday night at St. John's Cathedral.

On Wednesday evening, dozens witnessed the new bishop's welcoming prayer service, a ceremony that Fresno has not seen in nearly 20 years.

Following four raps at St. John's Cathedral doors, Bishop Armando Ochoa was welcomed into his new church home.

During the prayer service, the Nuncio, an ambassador to the United States from the Vatican, read the apostolic mandate from Pope Benedict XVI, proclaiming Bishop Ochoa's new role in the church.

Deacon David Rodriguez and his wife Leticia are thrilled to witness part of catholic history. "It was just a great experience to be part of the history of the Diocese of Fresno and to be able to witness it inside the cathedral, and to see Bishop Ochoa take possession of the cathedral and be part of the prayer service as well, it's truly a blessing," Rodriguez said.

In his homily, Bishop Ochoa said he plans to maintain the unity within the diocese left behind by his predecessor, the late Bishop John Steinbock.

Bishop Ochoa even joked that he's been busy since his appointment was announced by the pope on December 1.

"Every day since has been the shortest day of my life," he said.

Among the dozens of priests, nuns and other clergy -- 31 other bishops, two archbishops and a cardinal attended the prayer service.

"In a lifetime, it may only happen a few times," said Jim Grant a host for Catholic television. "It is wonderful to know that we finally have, in our presence, a new shepherd."

Bishop Ochoa was ordained a priest in 1970. He's served as a bishop for the past 25 years most recently in El Paso, Texas.

Bishop Ochoa's installation mass is Thursday at St. Anthony of Padua on Bullard and Maroa in Fresno. The service is open to the public, it begins at 1:30pm.

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