New York – Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
On Sunday, November 10, 2013, at a duly called parish assembly meeting of the St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero, a major step forward was taken. Under the leadership of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, and with the full support of the parish priest, the Rev. Fr. John Romas, and the Parish Council, the community unanimously approved a resolution to make the community a national shrine of the Holy Archdiocese of America.
This advance in the nature of the only House of Worship that was destroyed by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has momentous consequences for the parish both in the near and long term.
The resolution that was unanimously passed provided for the parish, known until now as the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero, to become a National Shrine of the Holy Archdiocese of America while maintaining its status as a parish of the Archdiocese. The parish would continue to function as such, but the Board of Trustees would have a national as well as local presence. The resolution also included the final agreement of the parish to exchange its land at 155 Cedar Street (including air and ground rights) for 130 Liberty Street. The new parcel, although less than fifty yards from the previous location, is more than three times larger.
The Archdiocese and the Parish had always seen that such an evolution for this historic parish of Manhattan was the logical next step. Not only is the mission and presence of St. Nicholas at Ground Zero a national undertaking, but also likewise are the costs and responsibilities.
In his exhortation to the community, Archbishop Demetrios stressed the enormous visibility of the rebuilt Church, adding that more than 10 million visitors to the World Trade Center site per year would see and perhaps enter the new Sanctuary. He noted that as a National Shrine, St. Nicholas would welcome all and be a House of Prayer for all people. The Archbishop said:
“This church will not be just a national shrine, but also an international shrine. It will show the will of all people to rebuild and resurrect from the ashes of 9/11. This will be a church for all to light a candle for the beloved that were lost on September 11th. This church will be a Greek Orthodox National Shrine on Hallowed, Sacred Ground.”
The members of the community expressed great satisfaction and relief that the Archbishop led the process of rebuilding from the beginning, and they expressed their appreciation to His Eminence for shepherding the project. Construction for the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Shrine will begin early next year.