Ninety-five (95) million dollars, no matter how you count it, is a lot of money. And yet, this is the amount raised so far by the organization Friends of St. Nicholas for the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the only house of worship destroyed by the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, almost 20 years ago.
Perhaps the cost of the Church seems excessive to some. This is because many may not be aware of the special needs of a building such as a church in this area – especially regarding security.
It may be said that a part of this amount could have been used for something else, for example for the needs of the Greek education, the ‘orphan child’ of the Greek Diaspora.
It should be noted however, that the money comes from donors who had a particular interest in St. Nicholas and not from the budget and regular fundraising efforts of the Archdiocese of America.
Before further addressing these issues, it should be noted that out of the total $95 million, $55 million has been raised in the last two years and $8.5 million in the last two months.
If one takes into account that this was achieved in the midst of a pandemic, then these numbers become even more impressive.
However, it would not have been possible to raise such a large sum without restoring the Greek community's trust in the leadership of the Church under the new Archbishop, and without the leading roles played by people like Michael Psaros, Father Alexander Karloutsos, and Dennis Mehiel.
So, this unprecedented success was possible due to the above reasons, and also because of the potential of the Greek Diaspora. When the Diaspora is activated by capable people with roots in the Community, and when key individuals set a good example, this potential is almost limitless.
This success proves there is a thirst in the Greek community for unity and cooperation, for inspiration and visions.
This success also proves, beyond any doubt, that when the Greek Diaspora is inspired by high goals, and projects undertaken with transparency, then the Community’s response should be considered guaranteed.
Based on this knowledge, a strategy of completing one big goal at a time should be adopted, the St. Nicholas campaign style.
And as each goal is achieved, then we go on to the next one. And then to another … and another.
Thus, the Greek Diaspora will acquire institutions of international stature that will serve essential needs, and which will also bring it honor and prestige in the broader society.
And, the Community will honor and thank its benefactors who made the goals a reality, naming the buildings and institutions after them, as they do in New York.
As they did in Constantinople and Alexandria.