The Friends of Saint Nicholas, the non-profit organization formed to complete the construction of the Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York, announced on Monday that the total of the fundraising has reached $95 million.
During a meeting with Archbishop Elpidophoros, the organization said that funding has accelerated over the past year, with $55 million raised since January 2020 and $8.5 million in the past two months alone. Twenty-five of those recent donors each contributed $100,000.
Responding to this extraordinary news, the Archbishop said:
“As a community, we can be very proud of the generosity and commitment of the benefactors and supporters of Saint Nicholas. Even in the midst of the pandemic, Greek Orthodox leaders came together from across America to resurrect the Shrine.
“Now the finish line is within our grasp as we approach two poignant and important milestones. This September 11, 2021, marks the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, and we are preparing to welcome the Ecumenical Patriarch for the dedicatory Thyranoixia on November 2, 2021, the 30th Anniversary of the Enthronement of His All Holiness.”
In a statement issued by The Friends of St. Nicholas, Chairman Dennis Mehiel and Vice-Chairman Michael Psaros, along with Vice-Chair of the Archdiocesan Council and Board member of the Friends of St. Nicholas, John Catsimatidis, they said:
“Our gratitude to our fellow Board members and those who have had the vision to stand with the Shrine is truly inexpressible. The embrace of this sacred responsibility to rebuild the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11 will be a legacy that endures for centuries.
“With the leadership of Archbishop Elpidophoros, and the guidance of Father Alexander Karloutsos, we have raised an additional $55 million since January 2020 — and we did it during a pandemic. This is the stable and enduring foundation for Saint Nicholas.”
Saint Nicholas to be clad with Pentelic marble
Construction on the National Shrine continues, and the exterior is expected to be completed by September 11, 2021. The Church will open completely in the Spring of 2022.
Saint Nicholas Shrine, the long-awaited church that is being constructed to replace the original St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero in Manhattan, will soon be clad in the very same Pentelic marble as the Parthenon, atop the Acropolis in Athens.
The radiant, cream-colored light of the marble of the Parthenon, which has shone like a beacon for more than two millennia, will be part of the new Shrine, which has been designed to serve as a lantern, with a transparent dome which will allow the light from within to shine up into the skies above New York City.
And the walls of the Shrine will soon be cloaked in the same marble, which will reflect the same warm ambience outward toward those who stand on the hallowed ground of Ground Zero, where nearly three thousand people perished in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
Pentelic marble, carved out of the ground from the quarries at Penteli, north of Athens, is a fine-grained calcitic marble. It is white, but has a unique golden tinge that makes it nearly appear as if it is alive.
In a tell-all interview with Greek Reporter, Vice-Chairman of the Friends of Saint Nicholas Michael Psaros reiterated that it is a matter of history for the Greek Orthodox community to complete the construction of the only religious structure that was destroyed during the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.