Astoria, NY –Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney hosted last Saturday a Town Hall meeting on issues affecting the Hellenic-American community, with a focus on the rebuilding of the historic St.Nicholas Church in lower Manhattan, the only religious institution to be destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. She was joined at the Town Hall meeting, held at the Federation of Hellenic Societies, by guest speakers Patrick Foye, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Father Alex Karloutsos of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, an Executive Advisor for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, priest of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons, and the director of FAITH: An Endowment for Orthodoxy & Hellenism that assists the National Ministries and institutions of the Archdiocese.
Present at the event were State Senator Michael Gianaris, State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, the President of Hellenic Federation Elias Tsekerides, Makros Marinakis from the Chian Societies an more.
In remarks delivered at the Town Hall meeting, Congresswoman Maloney said:
“I am pleased to be able to host a discussion of the long-awaited agreement between the Port Authority and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to finally rebuild St. Nicholas Church. This vital project, scheduled for completion in 2013, will help return to its rightful home a New York landmark that holds a special place in the history of our city and our nation.
“Founded in 1916 by Greek immigrants, St. Nicholas Church has always been a symbol of the important contributions the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has made to this country. It has served as a place of respite, calm and prayer for countless visitors to lower Manhattan. On September 11, when Tower 2 crumbled, it fell on St. Nicholas church, completely destroying it and its contents. All that was left are a few icons that were rescued from the rubble.
“Ever since that day, members of the Hellenic-American community have been yearning for its restoration. Its destruction left a hole in the fabric of lower Manhattan – and its rebuilding will be a sign of the rebirth and resurrection of the community. This project is not just about the bricks and cement that will make up the physical structure of the new church. It signals one more giant step toward emotional restoration – a symbol of New York’s perseverance and resilience.
“I think it is particularly meaningful that the final construction plans include a nondenominational bereavement center for interfaith dialogue. This sends a powerful message of peace and tolerance in response to a cowardly act of evil.”
At the event, Congresswoman Maloney thanked the Port Authority and the archdiocese for their professionalism and cooperative spirit in moving beyond controversies associated with the project and working collaboratively to reach an agreement on the Church’s reconstruction.
“The new church will rise on a new site – and it will be bigger and better than before, in part thanks to an outpouring of support from people across the country who have made donations to its building fund. When it is completed, the new church will be a community landmark, just as its predecessor was, but above all, it will be brought back to life by the faith and support of the people who worship there,” said Congresswoman Maloney.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is a co-founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues. With 144 Members, it is one of the largest Caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Congress, she has represented Astoria, the community that is home to the largest Hellenic population outside Greece and Cyprus, since 1993. Among other initiatives with a particular impact on and interest to Americans of Hellenic descent, she recently hosted a briefing with His Excellency, Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarelis of Greece, to discuss with Hellenic Caucus Members the measures the Greek government has taken to address the Euro Zone debt crisis.
In the 112th Congress, she has reintroduced two important resolutions with her Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FLA): H. Res.180, a resolution urging Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and H. Res. 179, a resolution recognizing the historical significance and heroic human endeavor of the people of Crete during World War II.
This past week, she introduced a new resolution urging the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to resolve the name dispute within the UN framework process with Greece.