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“Rebuild My Church” JANUARY 2022 Live Webcam
Theophany Icon
Our National Shrine

My Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Here at the commencement of the New Year of 2022 – which is the Centennial of our Greek Orthodox Church of America, we have once again celebrated the Great Feast of the Epiphany. The solemnities around the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism always include the Blessing of the Waters, and the Immersion of the Holy Cross into a body of water. In years gone by, the parish of Saint Nicholas was faithful to this tradition, holding the ceremony at the Battery, on the southern edge of Manhattan.

As I think about the future of the Shrine, which will open for worship this year and be a high point of the One Hundred Year Clergy Laity Congress in July, I see in these same services around the country an image of the mission of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine. We have often spoken of the Shrine as a “House of Prayer and Memory,” because of the national trauma inflicted on our Country, and the preeminent place that Saint Nicholas occupies at the rebuilt World Trade Center. The Greek Orthodox Church bears a great responsibility to the Nation for maintaining the presence of Faith and the highest human values at Ground Zero, as we are the only religious presence in the entire sixteen-acre site.

But more than this, we are a source of sanctification to all those who come to Ground Zero, and to those around the world who encounter the story of 9/11, wherever they may be. Our presence is not a proselytizing one, but neither is it passive. Sanctification, redemption, forgiveness, and healing are more than symbolic tokens of Faith. They are active, like the action of the clergy when they sprinkle Holy Water in the churches and homes of the faithful, or the retrieval of the Holy Cross after its sacred Immersion.

This year, the One Hundredth Anniversary of our Sacred Archdiocese – the Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne in America – we will commence the full liturgical life of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine, but not only for ourselves and our own needs. We are called to bring what we do “for the life of the world” to the world. Through ministries. Through preaching. Through teaching. And above all through service to others, whether they were personally affected by the tragic events of 9/11 or not. Together, we can make a difference that brings the sanctification which heals, binds up the inner wounds, and that ultimately redeems the suffering and loss that happened on that fateful day twenty years ago, at the epicenter of 21st Century history.

With Love and Blessings in the Baptized Lord of Glory,

Archbishop of America

The Evolution of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine


Dear Supporters and Friends of the St. Nicholas National Shrine,

This New Year of 2022 is an exciting time for the Saint Nicholas Church and National Shrine. After years of focusing on our ability to rebuild, and then taking on the enormous task of finishing the Shrine, we are now at a point where we can see our next evolution – the actual ministry and operation of the Church. The Friends of St. Nicholas are committed to giving the Shrine the very best preparation to meet the multitude of demands and tasks that will inevitably emerge from an open and functioning National Institution of our Archdiocese.

Due to further gifts from major donors – both new and increased commitments, we can begin to dream about how the Shrine will be supported in the future. The Parish now has a Priest and a Parish Council, and both will begin functioning in the coming months. The most exciting news is that we will celebrate Holy Week and we will proclaim “CHRIST IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!” for the first time in our National Shrine this Easter.

The interior surfaces and the complete installation of the magnificent iconographic program will take a bit longer, and even as this work heads to completion, the operations of the Shrine will begin to come online. This will include a tremendous program of digital information that will enable tours of the Shrine in the future. This program has been underway as a special project funded by the Friends of St. Nicholas, using a specialty firm that excels in museum digital programs. Through this digital effort, the Shrine will have an international presence on the Internet, as people around the world will have access to live-streamed events, photos, and information about the Shine and all its elements and ministries.

As the knowledge of the Shrine grows, so will the knowledge of the Church, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and of our Archdiocese. In turn, the Shrine will evolve with new opportunities and ministries, and the Friends of St. Nicholas will be there to support these new initiatives and trajectories of service.

So, as we commence this new and transformative year for the Shrine, we want to thank all of you, our friends and supporters, for your prayers and intentions, and for the continuing and amazing generosity that you demonstrate every day. We wish you and all you love a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year of 2022.


Dennis Mehiel

Michael Psaros
Friends of St. Nicholas Board of Trustees

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Honorary Chairman

Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, Vicar General (Advisor)

Dennis Mehiel, Chairman

Michael Psaros, Vice Chairman

John Payiavlas, Treasurer

Chrysa Demos, Secretary

Maria Allwin

John Calamos

John Catsimatidis

John Georges

George Marcus

C. Dean Metropoulos

George Mihaltses

Dean Spanos

George Stamboulidis

St Nicholas Inside
St Nicholas Inside
St Nicholas Inside
St Nicholas Inside
St Nicholas Inside
St Nicholas Inside
St Nicholas Inside

Message from Father Andreas Vithoulkas


Dear Friends,

I am so very pleased to wish all of you well in this New Year of 2022, one that holds exciting promise for the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. I am also very pleased to be able to share with you the good news that I will be assuming my fulltime ministry to the Shrine on March 1, 2022, as I conclude my service to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros as the Archdiocesan Chancellor. Presvytera Anthoula and I are anxious to begin this new ministry, and we are enormously grateful to the Archbishop, to the Friends of St. Nicholas, and to the Parish Council which will be meeting soon. In that vein, I am also happy to announce the officers of the new Parish Council:

  • George Mihaltses, President
  • Olga Pavlakos, Vice President
  • Chrysa Demos, Secretary
  • Lou Katsos, Treasurer

With these dedicated co-workers, I will be leading the effort to ready the Shrine in time for Pascha. Thus, we will fulfill the blessing granted on November 2, 2021, by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, when he crowned the Church with the Cross of Christ, opened the doors in a very special Service of Thyranixia, and bestowed upon the Shrine the Precious Relic of Saint Nicholas from Mount Athos.

I look forward to sharing with you further developments and plans as we draw closer to Pascha. Until then, thank you all for your prayers and your support. May Saint Nicholas guide us all to bring honor to his Shrine and glory to God!

In Christ,

Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas

Lou Katsos Hero

Louis Katsos

The rebuilding of Saint Nicholas has been assisted by many people through the years. In this final push to finish the Church, one of the unsung heroes is Louis (Lou) Katsos, a remarkable Hellene of the New York Omogeneia. He has contributed his extensive technical know-how, his time and energy – even traveling abroad to solve supply chain issues, and his commitment to the future of the National Shrine by agreeing to serve as Treasurer of the Parish Council.

Lou with Archbishop Elpidophoros

Lou with Santiago Calatrava


Watch a video of Lou describing elements of the Shrine’s features and construction complexities that make it unique

Lou was born in the Greek village of Georgitsi, a small mountain village located in the municipality of Sparta, on the side of Mount Taygetos. Due to its altitude, it allows you to see a large swath of the plain of Sparta; thus, Georgitsi has been dubbed “The Balcony of Taygetos.”

He emigrated to New York City with his family in 1956 at the age of 5. He attended the Brooklyn technical high school and later received a Master’s Degree from the Graduate Business School of New York University as well as a B.E.C.E. Degree (in Civil Engineering) from New York University. Lou has taught for almost 30 years as an Adjunct Assistant Professor both at New York University and at the Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union.



Figures as of January 11, 2022

Jan Financials
Jan Financials

The Image of the
Baptism of Christ: The Theophany


By His Grace Bishop Joachim of Amissos, PhD

Bishop Joachim of Amissos is an internationally recognized expert in Byzantine Iconography and is the Director of the Archbishop Iakovos Library at Hellenic College/Holy Cross

As noted in previous Newsletters, Byzantine/Orthodox churches were provided with a number of images referred to as the Christological cycle, that is a cycle of images depicting scenes from the life of Christ and/or the Theotokos. These scenes often correspond to the major feasts of the liturgical year, thus linking the sacred images with liturgical celebrations of special feast-days and also to the Eucharist’s commemorative aspect of the entire saving events of the life of Christ.

One of the Christological scenes to be found in the Saint Nicholas Shrine at Ground Zero is that of the Baptism of Christ, or the Theophany, the manifestation of God, the liturgical commemoration of which is 6 January. Images of the Baptism appear as early as the 3rd century and the image was essentially standardized by the 6th century as seen on numerous objects of pilgrimage art originating from the Holy Land. The essential elements are found at the center of the image of the Baptism: Christ standing in the River Jordan, with Saint John the Baptist or Forerunner (the Prodromos), standing on the shore at the left, his right hand placed on the head of the Lord in the act of baptizing, while the Holy Spirit, in the form of a Dove emanating from the semicircular arc of Heaven, appears above His head (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1: 9-11; Mark 3: 21-22; John 1:32-34).


Help rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at the World Trade Center by making your tax-deductible contribution:

Checks payable to:
Friends of Saint Nicholas
8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10075

Copyright © 2022 Friends of St. Nicholas. All rights reserved.
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