Source: Orthodox Times
Early this morning, faithful, clergy, and supporters from across the United States gathered at the World Trade Center for the consecration of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine.
Nearly 21 years after the harrowing attacks on the Twin Towers, the re-building of the Shrine, the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11, is “an act of faith—faith in God and in the American vision of religious liberty,” said the Friends of St. Nicholas.
The ceremony involved the sealing of the Holy Relics of Saint Nicholas within the altar table and took place within the context of the Divine Liturgy, officiated by Their Eminences Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit and Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh, who were joined by the Rev. Protopresbyters of the Ecumenical Throne Alexander Karloutsos and Andreas Vithoulkas.
According to tradition, the presiding bishop signs the altar table once it has been consecrated, but in a moving demonstration of unity, Archbishop Elpidophoros also invited each Metropolitan and Auxiliary Bishop, the two living former Archbishops of America Spyridon and Demetrios, Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Their Eminences Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymnon, as well as the Rev. Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne Alexander Karloutsos, to sign the consecrated altar.
In his homily, Archbishop Elpidophoros said, “…although it is a Greek Orthodox House of Worship, we welcome all. We invite all. We accept all. And we practice love of others; not prejudice; not rejection; and certainly not hatred. This Shrine will be a place for everyone who comes to the Sacred Ground at the World Trade Center to imagine and envision a world where mercy is inevitable, reconciliation is desirable, and forgiveness is possible.” (Full Homily in comments)
Remarks were also delivered by Friends of St. Nicholas Chairman Dennis Mehiel and Vice-Chairman Michael Psaros, who were recognized by Archbishop Elpidophoros as Centennial Honorees.
A Centennial Honorees are recognized for their significant contributions to the life of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. An honoree is a person who has served with distinction; who has given true stewardship of time, talent and treasure the Archdiocese; and who is a true Icon of a faithful member of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Archbishop Elpidophoros also recognized Father Alexander Karloutsos as a Centennial Honoree, presenting him with the gold cross of Hagia Sophia: “When all lost faith, you kept it. When all gave up hope, you hoped all the more. And the love you hold for this Church will be forever recognized in this Shrine, as we shall install in the Narthex of this Church the icon of your patron Saint, the Holy Alexander, Archbishop of Constantinople, as a perpetual memorial to you, your sacrifice, your faith and your love.”
In addition to the leadership of the Friends of Saint Nicholas, ecumenical leaders, and officials of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, were also present, among others.
To watch the video of the consecration service please click here.
Great Vespers at St. Nicholas by Metropolitan of Chalcedon
On July 3, at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon presided over Great Vespers.
In an affirmation of unity across the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Chancellor from each Metropolis served.
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America honored the exceptional service of George Gigicos and Andy Veniopoulos, who have “used their remarkable talents and skills to bring the Shrine to vital moments of its public reveal: last year, on the eve of September 11th, for the Lighting of the Shrine; on the Thirtieth Anniversary of His All-Holiness’ Patriarchal tenure, for the Opening of the Doors by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; and tonight, for this Vespers and the Consecration tomorrow.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros also expressed his gratitude to His Beatitude Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia, who commissioned and gifted a full set of ornate altar coverings for Saint Nicholas.
A number of ecumenical and interfaith leaders were also present for the Vespers service, including His Excellency Archbishop Gabriele G. Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; His Grace Bishop Irinej, Serbian Orthodox Church of North, Central, and South America; His Grace Bishop Saba, Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church in North America; His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Armenian Apostolic Church; and His Eminence Metropolitan Zachariah Nicholovos, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
Friday morning in NYC, the day after the Clergy-Laity Congress. Beautiful morning. Decided to walk High Line on the west side of town. Leo House, where I was staying during the conference, is near the entrance on West 23rd. My destination was the newly-consecrated National Shrine at Ground Zero. It was a 4.3 mile walk. High Line is a walker’s delight in the middle of a great city. Wonderful park and tree lined route. Does not go all the way. Continued walk along Hudson River walkway to the World Trade Center and Liberty Park where the Shrine sets on top of a park with an extraordinary view of buildings. To my surprise, the church is still a construction site. It was cordoned off and gates were up. Visitors could not enter the church. I could not light my candle and sit in prayer after my walk. I left a little confused. We celebrated two ceremonies at the site. One during the Patriarchal visit and the consecration of the church last Monday. But the church is not open to visitors at this time. Folks around me were disappointed too.
Confused? Disappointed? Really?
There were many reports that the “Shrine” would not be finished in time for the Clergy-Laity Congress. Other reports questioned how much money the “Friends” of St. Nicholas would squander in taking down the scaffolding for the second fake consecration, and then putting it back up.
Wasn’t that a consecration when Patriarch Bartholomew banged on the front doors and Fr. Alex “answered” from inside?
So now Archbishop Elpidophoros knocked on the front doors…who answered this time from inside? Fr. Alex again?
So now we have a twice consecrated and still not finished “National” Shrine where weary passers-by cannot enter to light a candle and quietly pray.
And now a word about unity.
Nice that former Archbishops Spyridon and Demetrios were included…as well as some of the Metropolitans and auxiliary bishops of the Greek Archdiocese. Where were the bishops of the Assembly of Bishops? Wasn’t the Assembly formed by all the “Mother” churches in order to unite the Church in America?
Let us pray that the third consecration occurs when the Orthodox Church in America is finally canonical, united, and Autocephalous and when all the Hierarchs in America can be present.. and when the Church is actually finished.