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St. Nicholas Church & National Shrine at the World Trade Center Celebrates Feast Day
December 6, 2022
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center celebrated the feast day of its patron saint, beginning with the Great Vespers service on December 5, among those present Calliope Katsimatides who lost her son John on 9/11. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
NEW YORK – St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center celebrated the feast day of its patron saint, St. Nicholas, beginning with the first ever Hierarchical Vespers service and Artoklasia on December 5, presided over by His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia with presiding priest of the community Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas and many clergy participating.
Among those present were His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, formerly of America, Friends of St. Nicholas Chairman Michael Psaros, National Philoptochos Society President Arlene Siavelis Kehl, Parish Council members, Anthoula Katsimatides and her mother Calliope Katsimatides, along with many community members who have waited so long to see the church finally open and offering services.
The moving vespers service also included the participation of St. Nicholas WTC’s newly appointed Master Chanter, Dimitrios Katsiklis, accompanied by many of the best chanters from various communities in the New York area who filled the church with their powerful voices in the Byzantine tradition.
Bishop Apostolos noted the significance of this historic service at St. Nicholas and what an honor it was for him to preside on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America to honor the great hierarch of the Church, St. Nicholas. He recalled the terrible events of September 11, 2001 and the fact that St. Nicholas Church was the only house of worship destroyed on that fateful day. He was visibly moved when he mentioned the thousands of people who lost their lives and noted the presence of the loved ones of some of those innocent people who had perished that day. The church he said was built with love and prayers, and the support of those present, but above all it was built with their Orthodox faith.
“You believed and still believe in the miracle, because we are living this miracle,” Bishop Apostolos said. “It is an honor to St. Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra, who was given the name ‘Wonderworker’ because he performs miracles, and this miracle continues today, for all of us in this unique holy pilgrimage.”
Fr. Vithoulkas thanked everyone for attending and quoted from the Vespers service: “For the sake of your name have I patently waited, oh Lord, my soul has waited patiently for your word, my soul has hope in the Lord.”
“The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the precious community whose edifice was destroyed on 9/11 we return today to the World Trade Center, we have been patient, we have waited two decades,” Fr. Vithoulkas said. “We return to this place where death and hatred made so many suffer so that we might bring life and love to Ground Zero, so that through this National Shrine the place of faith and true religion may find their place in the public square. Tonight, at this Great Vespers we commence the ministry of St. Nicholas again at the World Trade Center.”
Friends of St. Nicholas Chairman Michael Psaros spoke with The National Herald following the service and thanked TNH for its support of the effort to rebuild St. Nicholas, calling the newspaper, “the voice of truth and reason and faith.”
“I cannot describe my emotions this evening,” Psaros continued. “I am humbled by the collective accomplishment of the diaspora… and of all the people of all the nationalities of this great melting pot of America, the greatest country in the history of the world… in this shining city on the hill at the center of the most powerful city in the world we have built finally our Parthenon on the hill, our St. Sophia.”
The celebration of the Feast Day of St. Nicholas continued on December 6 with the Divine Liturgy also presided over by His Grace Bishop Apostolos.
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