New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
Fundraising efforts for the construction of Saint Nicholas National Shrine continues, regardless the difficult time of the pandemic. In their regular monthly update on the progress of the project, Dennis Mehiel, Chairman and Michael Psaros, Vice-Chairman of the Friends of Saint Nicholas thanked the donors, stressing that through their support and prayers, the National Shrine will be a major focus of the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 later this year.
“The Shrine, the surrounding Liberty Park, the features of the Park (the Sphere which sits opposite the entrance of the Shrine and America’s Response Monument that sits atop the site of 155 Cedar Street, the location of the Church destroyed on 9/11) – all of these will be major elements of the observances to take place on September 11, 2021, Mehiel and Psaros say in her message.
Quoting Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, they point out that the rebuilding has tremendous significance for the Nation and for the world.
“Saint Nicholas was the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11, and it’s rebuilding is a tangible symbol of hope for all people. In consequence we want as many people to be involved with the rebuilding and vision of the Shrine as possible.”
Mehiel and Psaros encourage everyone to contribute to the rebuilding of the National Shrine.
“That is why we are planning for a Virtual Community to surround the Shrine through their spiritual and material support. Everyone in the world will be able to become a “Virtual Member” of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine. Every donation will be recorded digitally in the Shrine itself. Outside, in the garden on the south side of the Church, there will be a magnificent granite Donor Wall to record the major donors who have given $100,000 or more.”
They finally ask everyone to make their personal statement about what the Shrine means to them and for every person to permanently have his name associated with what will become known as the most famous Orthodox Church in the Western World.
The fundraising goal set on January 2020 was $45 million, of which the 3 million as contingency reserve. It was spent toward budget $14,646,364, while the cash at hand is $15,058,253. The outstanding pledges amount at $17,839,042.
You may receive regular updates on St. Nicholas Shrine by visiting the new website at https://stnicholaswtc.org/
MESSAGE OF ARCHBISHOP
ELPIDOPHOROS OF AMERICA
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
If there is one thing that our Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine will represent to every American, it will be that religious freedom cannot be thwarted, cannot be stifled, cannot be overcome. When that terrorist attack destroyed the Twin Towers and everything around them, including Saint Nicholas, and thousands of our fellow human beings met an unjust and terrible death, it was an attack not simply on our way of life. As it was motivated by religious hatred, it was a direct attack on the freedom of religion enshrined in our Constitution.
As I reflect on this Bicentennial Year of Greek Independence and the courage of the Heroes of 1821 who rose up for their Faith and their Nation – ὑπὲρ πίστεως καὶ πατρίδος, I think of all the generations of men and women of conscience who have fought for their spiritual liberty, even in the face of great odds. In 1821, the challenges facing the Greek People seemed insurmountable, but their faith and character carried the day. Likewise, in the face of the terror of 9/11, the task of rebuilding our lives seemed equally insurmountable.
Like those Greeks of two hundred years ago, who regained their Parthenon for posterity, we have also struggled to regain our Saint Nicholas. It is not without significance that marble from the same vein that Pericles mined to build the greatest single symbol of democracy the world has ever seen, is being used to clad our National Shrine. By this choice, we are signaling to the world that faith can only flourish in freedom, and as proud Greek Orthodox, we invoke the very stones of Greece to bear witness. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ did on his Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday:
And when Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, as He descended of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. They cried out: “Blessed be the King that comes in the Name of the Lord: peace in Heaven, and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus: “Rabbi, rebuke your disciples!” And Jesus answered them, “I tell you that if My disciples are silenced, the stones will immediately cry out.”
The stones of Saint Nicholas stand for a free and positive exercise of religious freedom for every person, not only for Orthodox Christians. We rebuilt the Church for the same reason the World Trade Center was rebuilt – because the destruction and tyranny of hatred cannot be allowed to stand. At one level, it did not matter what House of Worship was destroyed on 9/11; it had to be rebuilt. But is has fallen to us, the Greek Orthodox People of America to meet the challenge to rebuild as a sign of love, of faith, and of hope. We have and we will, and even more so, in this auspicious year of the Bicentennial of Greek Independence.
With paternal Blessings in Christ,