The exclusive and extensive interview in last week’s edition of The National Herald by the leaders of the Friends of St. Nicholas organization, Michael Psaros and Dennis Mehiel was a historic one.
It informed our Church and the Greek-American Community in general but also the entire world that construction has resumed on the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
Responding to our question about when construction would restart, they said “construction has already started. The critical subcontractor in charge of the National Shrine’s exterior wall is working. The work is occurring at a fabrication facility in the Midwest. This is very exciting. We plan on visiting this contractor soon and will send the National Herald pictures of the progress.”
They also said that the remaining total cost for the finish of St. Nicholas outside and inside will be $42 million dollars, while they spoke of the fundraising efforts that are underway.
There isn’t the slightest doubt that this is a historic development. At last, after all the painful vicissitudes, the shame and the embarrassment caused to our Church and Community by the interruption of construction in December of 2017 can be put behind us. And now we have a new beginning as we move to finish this sacred and historic project.
What Michael Psaros and Dennis Mehiel said about Archbishop Elpidophoros was revealing. Here is their testimony: “The enthronement of His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros was the catalyst required to complete the National Shrine. He has restored the Omogenia’s confidence in the Archdiocese, made very substantial changes in its leadership, and is driving a very clear vision for the Orthodox Church in America in the 21st Century. He is a man of action, not talk. He is a true inspirational leader who encourages you to pick up your Cross and follow the Lord because of his actions and not words. His election was the key to completing the National Shrine.”
This is the reality, because as is the case in many other instances it applies here, for this great and sacred project: it’s the persons involved who matter, simply because the persons substantiate and express the institutions. And if the persons are limping consequently the institutions will also be hobbled, and vice versa. Many degrading and phthisic happenings in our Church and Community would have been avoided or prevented if Elpidophoros had come ten or even five years earlier. But His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, out of respect and compassion for the advanced age of former Archbishop Demetrios, didn’t want to resort to his power to remove hierarchs to liberate the Church from the costly presence of Demetrios. The Patriarch held the key to the solution in his hands – he could have recommended to the Holy Synod that it elect Demetrios to a Gerontic Metropolis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and thus to vacate the Archbishopric Throne of America. It is as simple as that. As a matter of fact, the Patriarch can do it for any Metropolitan in United States any time he wishes. He can even restore the prior charter and put an end the multi-headed system of metropolises. I strongly believe that that this has to be done sooner rather than later for the good and the unity of our Church.
One more thing. I don’t wish to bring up the painful and shameful past, but I just want us to pause for a minute and think about where we were a year ago and where we are today.
We all must realize there are ‘wise guys’ among us engaging in shenanigans. We must work hard to help Elpidophoros succeed. He has already achieved many things and he will achieve even more. Without this rejuvenation, our historic end was looming.