Archbishop Elpidophoros of America on Monday used sprigs of basil and holy water to bless the restart of construction works at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.
On 9/11 in 2001, two planes flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, tragically killing 2,977 innocent people, including 37 Greek Americans.
As the Twin Towers horrifically collapsed from the impact, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Manhattan was also buried. St. Nicholas was the only other building besides the Twin Towers completely destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Construction was set to resume in the spring, then COVID hit, grounding all non-essential projects statewide to a halt for months.
"Grateful to restart construction at St. Nicholas at Ground Zero with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This national shrine will be a symbol of love, of reconciliation, and a sign of the ideals of religious liberty and freedom of conscience that never excludes, but only embraces," he tweeted.
In the presence of NY State, Greek community and Archdiocese officials, Elpidophoros stood at a balcony on the construction site and performed the blessing ceremony at the location where works were halted in 2017.
The aim is to have the new St. Nicholas open on September 11, 2021 — the 20th anniversary of the attacks — to offer comfort to New Yorkers of all faiths.
Saint Nicholas Church, which commenced services in 1922, was named after Agios Nikolaos, Patron Saint of Sailors, as it was the first stopping point for many Greek migrants after they left Ellis Island, the United States’ busiest migrant inspection station. For 85 years, the Saint Nicholas Church stood at 155 Cedar St, New York City, until the shocking terrorist attack occurred.