ΑρχικήΟΜΟΓΕΝΕΙΑSt. Nicholas: A Shining Beacon of Faith, a Greek-American Contribution to America

St. Nicholas: A Shining Beacon of Faith, a Greek-American Contribution to America

 

If we judge everything by its results – as is right – then the Vespers Service for the Feast Day of St. Nicholas – the real opening of the doors of the church – is an unprecedented triumph for the Greek-American community, for Orthodoxy, and for Hellenism everywhere.

“Today is a day of celebration,” said Michael Psaros, the president of the Friends of St. Nicholas, who was instrumental in saving it from failure and shame.

It has been more than 21 years since September 11, 2001, that fateful day of the destruction of the Twin Towers and the horrific death of 3,000 people. Over that long period of time, much has happened. Not all of it pleasant.

The project exceeded every budget expectation. It ended up costing $95 million.

The money was donated by wealthy Greek-Americans, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and organizations like AHEPA, with an eye to God, to erasing the destruction the terrorists caused, to the future, and to history.

We owe them honor and gratitude. Regardless of the amount each one donated. From the first to the last. They expressed their pride and duty to their origins and their religion. They built a Hellenic beacon: brilliant, imposing and worthy of the brightest achievements in our long history.

They also honored those sailors and immigrants who bought a tavern down in New York Harbor and turned it into a church in honor of their patron saint, St. Nicholas. They built it to thank God for helping them cross the rough ocean in the dreadful ships of the day; to light a candle, as they used to do in their villages, in order to receive enlightenment and strength to face myriad trials as migrants; and, to beg God to one day help them to return to the land that gave them birth.

Now, their children and grandchildren, having lived the American dream, for the sake of which their forefathers decided to make the great journey, have created a masterpiece, a Greek Orthodox shrine, a jewel, and a monument to the memory of the unfortunate on 9/11/20021 and to the glory of its donors and the Community.

Among them, as I mentioned above, we must honor the contribution of Michael Psaros, who did not just donate monetarily, but also gave his soul to this project. He recognized its historical importance early on, embraced it, and led the effort to complete it.

We must also acknowledge the significant contribution of Father Alexander Karloutsos, who with enthusiasm and efficiency not only led the effort to raise the money, but also dealt with many problems of a political nature, related to securing the site for the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine.

Millions of people from all over the world will visit St. Nicholas at Ground Zero and will admire, along with the other great architectural works established after the massive destruction of the area, the faith, the generosity, and the determination of the children of Greek immigrants who have proven once again that not only do they not forget their origins, but they also confirm with this project that their contribution to their great country, America, is second to none…

 

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