Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!
In these celebratory Forty Days following the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are so very blessed to be witnessing the rebirth of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero. Every day, as the pictures in this Newsletter will show, the marble cladding of the walls progresses. We are now less than four months from the Twentieth Anniversary of September Eleventh, and we are hastening to have the exterior of the Church finished for this solemn observance. Saint Nicholas will be set aglow for the first time on the eve of 9/11, as the sun sets.
I wish to take a moment to commend The Friends of St. Nicholas, who have stood strong in the breach, and are making the completion of the Shrine possible. They, together with the small team led by our pro bono COO of Construction, Richard Browne, have persevered through the pandemic to bring about this miraculous rebirth. Their generous deeds have matched and even exceeded their positive words. As the Apostle Iakovos tells us, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). If this is the case, then the faith of The Friends of St. Nicholas and all those committed to the rebirth of our National Shrine is very much alive!
There is so much that Saint Nicholas is going to offer, not only as a Greek Orthodox Church, but as an institution of healing, reconciliation, and remembrance. Our collective responsibility to this sacred site, hallowed by the unjust deaths of so many thousands, cannot be overstated. Our Church, our Archdiocese, has been entrusted with a sacred vocation to this place of everlasting memory. We are called to be the only religious site at the World Trade Center. We are called to be an inclusive and ministering presence to all people who come to our Shrine. We are call to be a witness of faith and the best of all religious and spiritual traditions. This vocation is weighty indeed, and it has fallen to us, because it was our precious Saint Nicholas that fell, as well, on 9/11.
My brothers and sisters: Saint Nicholas is Rising! Let us come together, not only as an Archdiocese, but as human beings from every and any background, to bring to its most perfect completion, the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. You can still participate, and I pray that you will.
Christ is Risen! Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη!
With paternal Blessings in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America