The Need to Complete the Church of St. Nicholas

Few would argue that mistakes were not made in the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero. Mistakes pertaining to the cost, the architecture, and the timing of the Church’s construction.

Some of these were addressed by Mr. Nicholas Karakas, a Greek-American who has made large donations for Greek studies and the Church, endowing a Chair in Byzantine and Orthodox Studies at The University of Missouri-St. Louis, funding scholarships for learning Greek, and with ads in the English edition of The National Herald.

But it is inconceivable that the Church should not be completed.

It would be a historic failure of the Greek-American community.

In a joint article in The National Herald the president and vice president of the Friends of Saint Nicholas organization, Dennis Mehiel and Michael Psaros, respectively write:

“Friends, with the extraordinary support of our Omogeneia, together will pick up the Cross with faith, humility, and prayer to complete the construction of the St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine. We are confident that we, the Church militant, will prove ourselves worthy of the Church triumphant.”

And in his article, also in The National Herald, Father Alexander Karloutsos writes:

“So when we face the inevitable difficulties of any great project, let us remember as well that even Pericles had his critics when he was building the Parthenon.”

As I said above, mistakes were made, questions were raised, the Church and the Diaspora were embarrassed by the problems exposed during the construction of this sacred building.

We reached the point where the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey threatened to deprive us of ownership of the site in the event that work on the temple could not proceed, which had been interrupted due to financial problems.

However, the underlying problems seem to have been addressed or have begun to be addressed.

Archbishop Elpidophoros’ election has dramatically changed things at the Archdiocese of America. A fresh wind is blowing.

There is widespread new hope. The Archbishop is gradually, but steadily, addressing the myriad problems he inherited.

Thus, criticism against him at this point in time does not stand. We owe it above all to our Church and Community to give him time to evaluate the situation and take prudent action before we start complaining.

At the same time, the creation of the Friends of St. Nicholas organization, consisting of distinguished members of the Community, most importantly Michael Psaros, whose contributions to the Community and integrity are undeniable – for example, it was Mr. Psaros who prevented the finances of the Archdiocese from collapsing – guarantees the completion of the Church within a short time and with a reasonable budget from now on.

In addition, the visit of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to Archbishop Elpidophoros, in the presence of members of the Friends of St. Nicholas is another guarantee for the completion of the project.

Based on these developments we can look forward with optimism to the future of the construction and the functioning of the Church.

The crisis that our Archdiocese has gone through is being addressed.

Leading Greek-Americans are once again willing to contribute their knowledge, time, and money to this project under the leadership of the young, dynamic, and capable Archbishop Elpidophoros.


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