After years of uncertainty over the project's financial viability, The Friends of Saint Nicholas group has raised $95 million to rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, which was destroyed in 2001 during the 9/11 terrorist attack in Manhattan.
According to The Christian Post, The Friends of Saint Nicholas – a group that was established in 2019 to help rebuild the church – shared that of the $95 million raised, $55 million was raised in 2020, and $8.5 million has been raised in the last two months alone.
The group intends to have the church's exterior rebuilt by September 11 of this year, just in time for the 20thanniversary of the attack that killed 2,606 people and left more than 6,000 others injured in and around the World Trade Center.
"There have been a series of significant donations that have occurred since Archbishop Elpidophoros assumed the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church of America," Dennis Mehiel and Michael Psaros, chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of The Friends of Saint Nicholas, told The Christian Post in an email. "The concerted efforts of The Friends of St. Nicholas, the nonprofit charged with raising the funding, managing the construction to completion, and to endow the Shrine, have led to these remarkable donations."
According to Mehiel and Psaros, the interior of the church is expected to be completed by Easter of 2022.
In November, amid the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is expected to visit St. Nicholas. Bartholomew's visit will also align with the 30th anniversary of his enthronement.
According to The Christian Post, the reconstruction project has been met with several complications, including disagreements over a new location for the church, a financial shortage and a financial and managerial crisis within the archdiocese, which led to the reconstruction being halted in 2017 until August of 2019.
During a ceremony marking the return to construction last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asserted that the reconstructed church would serve as a "powerful message to all New Yorkers and all Americans."
He said at the time, "We are going to build back the way we built back from 9/11, and it will be better and stronger with more solidarity and more faith and more spirit of community than ever before."
He continued, "We have gone through difficult times together, but we rise from the ashes and we rise stronger than ever before. That's what this St. Nicholas will stand for. It is a powerful message to all New Yorkers and all Americans."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Spencer Platt/Staff, The St. Nicholas National Shrine
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.