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“Rebuild My Church” DECEMBER 2021 Live Webcam
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Merriest of Christmases

My Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We have just concluded the Feast of the Holy Wonderworker of Myra, Saint Nicholas, who is the Patron of our National Shrine. On that blessed day, I presided over the Divine Liturgy in the Chapel of Saint Paul at the Archdiocese Headquarters, with the new Proïstamenos of the Parish, Father Andreas Vithoulkas, celebrating at the Holy Altar.

This was a day filled with joy for many reasons. Above all else, we knew that this would be the last celebration of the Feast of Saint Nicholas apart from the Shrine. And at the conclusion of the Divine Service, I installed the Parish Council of the Shrine, a Council with a special mission and a special configuration. Below I have included my Archpastoral Exhortation to the new Council, so that everyone committed to the Saint Nicholas National Shrine can get a flavor of the high caliber of persons who will be leading the renaissance of the Parish.

We all know that Saint Nicholas himself morphs through history to become Santa Claus, and that virtually the entire society and culture observe Christmas in one form or another. We can be grateful that so many of our fellow citizens commemorate the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. In the future, the Saint Nicholas National Shrine will be a touchstone of faith for all who want to understand the profound meaning of the Birth of our Savior. Its ministry, energized by its Clergy and Parish Council, sustained by the Friends of Saint Nicholas, and supported by people like you, will bring the Message of Salvation to all.

With these thoughts, I wish all the Merriest of Christmases, and the blessings of a Healthy and Happy New Year.

With Love and Blessings in the Newborn Babe of Bethlehem,

Archbishop of America

Homily at the Liturgy of the Feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker And Installation of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine Parish Council
Parish Council 1

Dear Father Andreas,
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

While I had wanted to have this Divine Liturgy in the Shrine itself, so as to continue our journey to the full opening of the Church – inaugurated by the blessing of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew just last month – it was necessary for us to allow for construction to proceed apace.

We are so very close to our dream: to the restoration and, indeed, resurrection of the Church of Saint Nicholas. It has been over twenty years in the making, and we are so very close now. Even so, we have lost beloved members, friends and family who yearned to see this day. Therefore, the charge that I give to all of you today – the Parish Council of Saint Nicholas National Shrine – is all the more significant. For you carry on your shoulders the enormous task of rebuilding the parish that was devastated two decades ago. The bonds of the parish have survived, but we have lost some who were near and dear to our hearts. Nevertheless, we must be prepared to embrace those who will seek out the renewed Church and the mission of our National Shrine.

Parish Council 2
Parish Council 3

For this reason, I have assigned as your Προϊστάμενος and my Archepiscopal Vicar, my own Chancellor, the Reverend Protopresbyter Andreas Vithoulkas. And thus, no one will ever be able to say that I have denied you anything!

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The Christmas Gift of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine


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

The Friends of St. Nicholas are excited about the news that is coming between the Feast of Saint Nicholas himself on December 6th, and Christmas Day. As has been announced, on Saint Nicholas Day, Archbishop Elpidophoros installed the Parish Council of the rebuilt Saint Nicholas Church and National Shrine. Together with this very special Council – a body that incorporates national constituencies of the Archdiocese, the Friends of St. Nicholas are committed to organizing a substantive plan to open the Shrine for worship in time for Pascha 2022. In addition, FoSN will work with the Council and the Clergy, under the oversight of the Archbishop, to plan for the future operation of the Shrine.

This Christmas Season reminds us that the Saint Nicholas National Shrine is the gift of the Greek Orthodox People of the United States to the world. We have been joined by thousands of people – many outside our community – whose generosity is a manifestation of the spirit of Christmas. We hope that many hearts will be touched in this generous time of the year, so that we can continue build the endowment of the Shrine. Every gift is valuable and will be recoded for posterity. This effort will enable the Shrine to fulfill its mission and ministries with the support necessary be effective.

The Shrine will become part of the story of Christmas, because of its relationship with Saint Nicholas, who is the historical figure behind the beloved figure of Santa Claus. We will offer the substance of faith and ministry to bring the message of our Orthodox Christian Faith to all people of good will, just as Christ was born in Bethlehem for all people.

The Friends of St. Nicholas wish all of you a very Merry and Happy Christmas with you and your loved ones, and a Happy and Healthy New Year.


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

Message from Father Andreas Vithoulkas


Fr Andreas Vithoulkas

On December 6, 2021, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America installed the new Parish Council for the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. The Reverend Protopresbyter Andreas Vithoulkas, the current Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, leads that Council with its President, George Mihaltses.

At a celebratory luncheon following their installation, Father Andreas offered these remarks.

Please allow me a few words of gratitude – to His Eminence, for this sacred παρακαταθήκη of trust and confidence, to the Friends of Saint Nicholas for their amazing labors of love and devotion to complete and endow our National Shrine, and to the Members of the Community, who have persevered through the last twenty years to arrive on the other side of that great chasm of loss and grief that swallowed so many of our loved ones, and really, all our lives, on 9/11.

I feel so privileged to be the inheritor of the mantle of Father John – and, Presvytera Romas: I will certainly strive with my utmost to honor his decades of ministry. I know that speak for my own Presvytera Anthoula and my sons, when I say that our family is excited to commence this ministry, and we will give it everything that we have!

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The Builders

The Builders of our National Shrine

The rebuilding of Saint Nicholas has been, at this point, a decades long process. All through these years, there have been many unsung heroes who have labored on site – the construction workers whose dedication and devotion has been, to this point, unheralded.

From the very first days of the rebuilding efforts, we have seen time and time again the faith and the commitment of these noble men and women, who are shaping Saint Nicholas into the physical reality which will embody its spiritual essence. Just witness this steel beam that arrived at Ground Zero very early on:

Steel Beam

Somewhere, somehow, a pious worker responsible for the first foundation elements, let us know – and everyone working on the site, that there was something very special about Saint Nicholas. The Port Authority was deeply moved by the appearance of this beam.

Hero 1
Hero 2

From that day forward, those who have dedicated themselves to the rebuilding have labored as much as twenty-two hours a day to bring the Church to completion, even in this time of the pandemic. In fact, for the lighting of the Church on September 10th, when Saint Nicholas inaugurated – for the first time – the Anniversary Commemorations of 9/11 (and this was the Twentieth!), the teams worked literally around the clock to make sure the lighting ceremony could happen at nightfall that evening.



Figures as of December 17, 2021

December 2021
October Financials 2

Nativity Images in the Shrine of Saint Nicholas


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 outlined in previous Newsletters, Byzantine/Orthodox churches customarily 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. Often these scenes were the same events corresponding to the 12 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. In addition, Byzantine/Orthodox churches that were dedicated to a particular saint often included depictions of scenes from the life of that saint, referred to as the saint’s Vita or Life cycle or Hagiographic cycle. This tradition is also observed in the Shrine of Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero and both of these cycles have a Nativity image.

Nativity Full
Nativity of Christ:

The image of the Nativity of Christ, which will be placed in the upper arched zone of the south wall of the Shrine, follows the traditional Byzantine representation that drew upon the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, other early Christian texts and pilgrimage art originating from the Holy Land. The image of Christ’s Birth was essentially formulated as early as the 6th century and was eventually standardized by the 9th century.


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 © 2021 Friends of St. Nicholas. All rights reserved.
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