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Michal Psaros Speaks about the Significance of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and Shrine

Archon Michael Psaros, the prominent businessman and churchman who played a pivotal role in the completion of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, told The National Herald that “The National Shrine is the most visible symbol of Hellenism in the United States.”

Psaros who contributed abundantly of his time and financial resources to the project, also said that “for our Orthodox Faithful, this is our American St. Sophia of Constantinople – our Mother Church.”

He expressed gratitude to the Organization ‘Friends of St. Nicholas’ for its historic effort ensure the completion of the National Shrine. Psaros is the Vice-Chairman of the organization.

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, filled with light, glowing in Manhattan. (Photo Michael Psaros)

Asked about the construction status, Psaros said, “we are thrilled to be so close to final completion. The exterior and interior of the National Shrine will be substantially complete by July 4, 2022, the day of its Consecration. The Faithful in attendance at the Consecration and watching the Service being streamed around the world on www.st.nicholaswtc.org will observe that there are still some interior sections of fine engraved limestone architectural pieces that have not yet been installed. Like the rest of the world, we have been affected by supply chain and shipping delays. The final interior marble pieces which are purely cosmetic will be installed as soon as we can get them delivered. The Iconography installation began the week of June 8th and will continue after the Consecration. Father Loukas, the world-renowned Iconographer from Mt. Athos is currently working on the installation of the ‘Platitera’, the ‘Virgin of New York’ which will be finished by July 4th. This Icon is breathtaking. Currently, we anticipate the National Shrine’s exterior and interior details to be complete by September 2022.”

Archon Michael Psaros with His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. (Photo: Michael Psaros)

Speaking about the consecration Psaros said, “we are very grateful to the Port Authority of the State of New York and New Jersey for its cooperation making a very large consecration event possible. Ground Zero is one of the most secure, most protected, and most guarded places in the world and it is extremely unusual for the authorities to allow a large group to assemble. We have worked on the Consecration for months. We will be prepared to accommodate the faithful that want to participate in the Consecration, in the National Shrine, on Liberty Park, and in the surrounding area. We will have seats for everyone, along with restroom facilities and hydration stations. The Consecration will begin at 9:30 AM and conclude at 11:00 AM followed by a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The Consecration will be the highlight of the Clergy-Laity Congress. To attend the Consecration, you must register in advance and receive a color-coded entry ticket that corresponds to your seating area. For more information, faithful can visit the Saint Nicholas website at StNicholasWTC.org where we will post all the information.”

Archon Michael Psaros, Vice President of the Organization ‘The Friends of St. Nicholas’ with its president, Dennis Mehiel. (Photo: Michael Psaros)

Speaking of the significance of the National Shrine for the Greek-American Community, Psaros said, “the National Shrine is the most visible symbol of Hellenism in the United States. President Biden made St. Nicholas a central theme his remarks in the White House at the reception for Prime Minister Mitsotakis last month. Please reflect on this. The President of the United States understands the importance of the symbol of St. Nicholas. I really pray that everyone in Greece understands the historic weight of this achievement. I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Mitsotakis on his next visit to our country at the National Shrine, with his Cabinet. For Greeks and Greek-Americans, even if you are not a member of the Church, the National Shrine is the symbol of your heritage and identity in this country. This is it. For our Orthodox Faithful, this is our American St. Sophia (of Constantinople – our Mother Church). The National Shrine is the most visible Orthodox Church in the United States and is Holy Orthodoxy’s missionary witness to the world because it will be the most visited Orthodox Church in the United States by non-Orthodox. The National Shrine is also a cenotaph and eternal monument for the 3,000 people who were martyred on September 11th. Finally, St. Nicholas is a powerful symbol that binds the Orthodox and American community together.”

When asked how can the Faithful, the Omogenia, support this National Ministry, he replied, “St. Nicholas is both a National Shrine and a Greek Orthodox Church with its own parish. Now that the National Shrine is nearing completion and consecration, we encourage every single Greek-American and every single Orthodox Christian in the United States to become a permanent, recurring sustaining member of the National Shrine. Please join and contribute something every year, whether its $20, $100 or more and see your name listed digitally on-site as a supporter for the hundreds of thousands who will visit every year. For the National Shrine to succeed, we need the entire Omogenia in the United States to become a sustaining member (please visit to www.stnicholaswtc.org).”

Michael Psaros at the ‘lighting’ of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. (Photo: Michael Psaros)

Psaros deeply moved by his experience helping the Shrine become a reality, said, “the National Shrine is a miracle (a ‘thavma’). I am deeply grateful and humbled by the tireless effort of a small group of people and our major donors that made this miracle possible. I thank His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros  of America, for his leadership, to Father Alexander Karloutsos, the alpha and omega of the National Shrine, for his sheer force of will, inspiration, love, and eternally wise counsel that made all of this possible, to Presvytera Xanthi for lending your family to the cause for 20 years, to Dennis Mehiel, my brother, for having the State of New York and the Port Authority give us another chance and for his credibility with all the public stakeholders, to the Members of the Board of Directors of the Friends of St. Nicholas for putting their names and reputations on the line, for Mr. Richard Brown and Mr. Lou Katsos for their construction contribution, expertise, wisdom, and supervision, and to John Catsimatidis, my brother, for making the National Shrine a super-priority of the Archdiocesan Council. I am profoundly grateful to our major donors – especially the Spanos Family, who made the National Shrine possible through their ‘philotimo’, ‘philantrophia’ and faith. May God bless each major donor and their families. To everyone involved in this Ministry – AXIOI!

Michael Psaros at the ‘lighting’ of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. (Photo: Michael Psaros)

As for the core working group of the Friends of St. Nicholas, when we embarked on this sacred mission and ministry in January 2020, we would not have envisioned that it would become a full-time job, and we already have full time jobs. We didn’t anticipate what a life-changing journey it would be from a personal and spiritual perspective. I feel profoundly humbled to have had the blessing and privilege of being associated with this remarkable group of deeply devout, Greek-Americans and Orthodox Christians, who have made me a better person. They inspired me then and they inspire me now.

I am also eternally grateful to my wife, Robin, for her conviction to the construction of the National Shrine and for just putting up with the time alone and the stress. She is my rock, my angel, the poetry in my life.

I also want to thank and commend you personally, Mr. Kalmoukos, The National Herald, its Editorial Pages, and the Diamataris Family for the rock solid, steadfast support for the creation of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine and the Friends of St. Nicholas from day one and for believing when so many did not.”

Archon Michael Psaros with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. (Photo: Michael Psaros)
The installation of the Holy Cross on the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. (Photo: Michael Psaros)

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