Friends of Saint Nicholas Chairman Michael Psaros at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center on December 6, the feast day of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. (Photo: TNH/ C. Athanasatos)
NEW YORK – St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center was filled with the faithful as the community celebrated the feast day of its Patron Saint, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, at the Great Vespers on December 5, the eve of the feast, and the Divine Liturgy on the morning of the feast day, December 6.
Both the Vespers and the Divine Liturgy were presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, assisted by Archdiocese Chancellor Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, St. Nicholas Church WTC presiding priest Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas, as well as other priests.
It was the second celebration of the feast day at St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine at the WTC but, at the same time, the first for Archbishop Elpidophoros, who was absent on a planned trip to the Holy Land last year and was represented by then-Bishop Apostolos of Medea, the current Metropolitan of New Jersey.
Among the congregation Friends of Saint Nicholas Chairman Michael Psaros, was also present, who was visibly moved attending the second consecutive feast day of the community as was Parish Council President Demetri Papacostas.
Both during Vespers and on the day of the feast, the church was full, demonstrating the special symbolic importance to the Greek Orthodox flock, about a year and a half after the inauguration and two years after the opening of the doors, which had been held during the historic visit of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, when the church was not yet completed nor open to the public.
Now, after a year of full operation St. Nicholas is fully open to the public, being, among other things, a site and prayer center for visitors to the 9/11 Memorial, but also for the families of the victims of September 11th and especially those connected with the Greek Orthodox Church.
St. Nicholas WTC since it opened has also been visited by powerful figures in the American political scene, as well as Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the new president of SYRIZA, Stefanos Kasselakis.
The church’s previous building was the only house of worship destroyed, as it is known, during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and since then it took almost 21 years due to various obstacles and difficulties for its reconstruction which cost more than $90 million. The completion of the new church was thanks to the initiative and work of the Friends of Saint Nicholas organization led by Michael Psaros, Dennis Mehiel, and Fr. Alexander Karloutsos.
The church was designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and the iconography by Fr. Loukas of the Holy Monastery of Saint Xenophon on Mount Athos.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Iditarod, the annual sled dog race celebrating Alaska's official state sport, is set to get underway Saturday with a new focus on safety after five dogs died and eight were injured in collisions with snowmobiles while training on shared, multi-use trails.
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