NEW YORK – The Elder Ephraim, Abbot of the Vatopaidi Monastery and his brother monks visited the St. Nicholas National Shrine at Ground Zero as part of their U.S. tour. Fr. Alexander Karloutsos gave them a tour of the church. Also present was Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Fr. Karloutsos explained to Abbot Ephraim the history of the St. Nicholas parish since its inception by the pioneer Greek immigrants and Greek sailors who were arriving to New York.
Karloutsos referenced problems that arose through the years with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and that the intervention of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was vital in resulting in the construction of the new nave, which stopped nine months ago for financial reasons.
Currently, the building is covered with white nylon material while building materials are stored inside. Karloutsos told Ephraim that completion will cost $78 million total, and approximately 18 to 22 months to complete.
Ephraim and his entourage chanted the hymn of St. Nicholas, wishing speedy completion of the nave for the Glory of God and Orthodoxy.
All of the other buildings destroyed during 9/11 have been rebuilt, and in addition to the Shrine and the Memorial, Ephraim visited the Freedom Tower.
Ephraim told The National Herald that he is “happy that I had the opportunity to visit St. Nicholas. It is a blessing to have a nave that will be dominant in this area. I hope the construction will be resumed so that it will be consecrated soon.”
The St. Andrew Archons hosted a luncheon in Ephraim’s (and brother monks’) honor. The Hon. Vasilios TheodosiosBozonelis, National Secretary, welcomed Elder Ephraim. Present at the luncheon were Fr. Karloutsos, Spiritual Advisor of the Archons, and Rev. Christopher Metropulos president of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
The monks showed a video of the Vatopaidi Monastery about the daily life, the worship, the works of monks in the library, in the fields. Ephraim presented an icon to the Order of St. Andrew to Karloutsos.