Dear friends, it’s good to be back!
Happy New Year, health and happiness to all of you.
I could hardly have picked a more pleasant topic for a new beginning of this column– after a necessary, six month absence, due to a potential conflict in my previous position– from what it will deal with today: The decision to restart work at the Church of St. Nicholas at Ground Zero – with a completion date set for September 11, 2021 – which was announced last Thursday at the Archdiocese.
The subject of St. Nicholas, as is well known in every corner of the Earth where Hellenism lives, became a nasty reference point for the Greek-American Community, so it makes sense, from any point of view, that it attracted the immediate interest of the new Archbishop.
Of course this is not the only important issue that Archbishop Elpidophoros is called upon to address. Unfortunately, there are many open wounds that need to be tackled, one by one.
The decision taken to restart and complete work on St. Nicholas is important. And this characterization is supported by a number of facts:
First, by the fact that the meeting to address this issue was held at the Archdiocese under the chairmanship of the Archbishop.
Second, it was done with the participation of the Governor of New York State, who has overall responsibility for Ground Zero, and the Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who has the direct responsibility for that area and is appointed by the governors of those two states.
And third, it is important because it also included a group of top Greek-Americans from all over the country, who make up the Board of the new organization, Friends of St. Nicholas, which will be responsible for financing and completing the project.
It is recalled that this organization was created during the Archbishopric of Demetrios and it is similar to the changes in the Leadership 100 organization that were made during the time of Archbishop Spyridon.
The Board of Directors, consisting of 13 members, includes Dennis Mehiel, its president, and its Vice President Michael Psaros, in addition to: George Marcus, John Catsimatidis, Maria Allwin,John Calamos, Chrysa Demos, John Georges,, George Mihaltses, George Payiavlas, Dean Spanos, George Stamboulidis, and the Rev. Alexander Karloutsos, Spiritual Advisor of the Friends of St. Nicholas and Vicar General of the Archdiocese.
As you will notice, a renewal was made with younger members of the Community, and the list includes two women, too.
It is important that at the meeting there was a combination of New York authorities who had threatened to push us out of the World Trade Center after construction had ceased, and some of the most important leaders of the Diaspora, who in combination with the leadership of the new Archbishop offer every promise and hope that this work, one of the most ambitious in the history of the Diaspora, will be completed in time and with full transparency.