Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On behalf of the members of the Holy Eparchial Synod of our Holy Archdiocese, I am writing to you concerning the progress in the rebuilding of the Saint Nicholas Church at Ground Zero in New York City. As you have heard and read, construction is proceeding on the beautiful Naos that will be a national shrine and a place of prayer, remembrance, and hope. From the ashes of destruction is rising an edifice for the communion of God and humanity. From the remnants of a violent act of hatred comes a holy place that affirms the power of love and faith.
This is the witness that will be offered by our Saint Nicholas National Shrine. Centrally located, it will be a beacon to all who visit Ground Zero. The light that will shine from this place will not only be by architectural design, but a light that will illuminate the path to God. Saint Nicholas and the ministry offered there will shine forth the truth of the Gospel and grace that comes through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The National Shrine will also be a vibrant and beautiful witness of Orthodox Christianity and our Hellenic heritage. Inspired by the architecture of Hagia Sophia and the Church of our Savior in Chora, built with marble from the same vein in Greece used for the Parthenon, and incorporating very modern elements and features, the Shrine will engage the attention of the millions of visitors to Ground Zero. The church will invite all of their senses to encounter a faith and tradition that connects human and divine, celebrates life and goodness, and shows the path to salvation and eternal peace.
The Saint Nicholas National Shrine will also be a witness to this nation and to the world of the power of faith and love in response to great tragedy and loss. In the aftermath of a horrific and evil act, Ground Zero became a place of sacrifice and compassion. It has become a place symbolizing resilience and strength. It is a place of remembrance and hope. The completion of the Shrine will accentuate the essential role of faith in our lives and our nation. Built upon a rock of truth, it will affirm the foundation of love for our creation, our purpose, and our shared humanity. It will represent to the world the bonds that unite the many into one people who cherish liberty for all.
To complete this sacred task for the glory of God and this powerful witness, your support is needed. On this Sunday, November 8, we are beginning an initiative to raise the remaining resources needed to complete the Saint Nicholas National Shrine. We give thanks to Almighty God for the many benefactors who have contributed generously and for the gifts both large and small that have been offered in faith and love. Our hope through additional offerings and pledges is to announce on the feast of Saint Nicholas, December 6, that all of the resources have been committed to complete this Shrine. Between now and the feast of the Shrine’s patron saint, we ask you to consider prayerfully what you can give to finish a church and a ministry that will be known throughout the world for generations to come.
As you give prayerfully and for His glory, may we follow the example of our Holy Father among the Saints, Nicholas the Wonderworker, who gave everything for the spiritual riches and blessings from above, gifts of God that will last for eternity.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America