NEW YORK – The memory and the feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was honored and celebrated by Orthodox Christians yesterday Dec. 6, in churches across the country and the world. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, as he has done for the last 11 years, led the annual prayer and memorial service in the area of the World Trade Center near the site where the small historic church of St. Nicholas stood for more than 80 years before it was completely destroyed on September 11, 2001.
The prayer service was held amid the ongoing construction, in front of the new location at the corner of Liberty and Greenwich streets, where St. Nicholas will be resurrected as an Orthodox witness of faith and a prominent and permanent part of the new World Trade Center.
Archbishop Demetrios prayed for the repose of the souls of those who perished that tragic day in 2001 and asked for the intercessions of Saint Nicholas to God for continued strength and guidance as the Church in America takes on the task of rebuilding the historic church. His Eminence spoke of the long road of faith and persistence through the years that led to the agreement to secure the new plot and rebuild. He also outlined the high visibility the Church will have in a site where tens of thousands of people will be visiting the area every day.
Present among the many faithful of the old St. Nicholas Parish who attended the service was the Director for the WTC construction, Steven Plate, who welcomed the Archbishop and the congregation, showed the future St. Nicholas site to all, and said that the necessary underground construction seemed to be ahead of schedule. Also present at the service were the Consul General of Greece in New York Georgios Iliopoulos, the Consul General of Cyprus Koula Sofianou, the Consul of Greece Evangelos Kyriakopoulos, Frs John Romas, Gerasimos Makris and Luben Agapitos Chunov and assisting the Archbishop Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos and Deacon Arisitidis Garinis.
Earlier in the day, Archbishop Demetrios presided at the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy for the feast of Saint Nicholas at the Greek Orthodox Shrine Church of St. Nicholas in Flushing, NY, one of the largest Greek Orthodox parishes in America. In his homily to the hundreds of faithful in attendance, the Archbishop spoke about Saint Nicholas and said that the model of a man in Christianity is that of a Saint, a model which encompasses the old models of the righteous and the hero and is a man who fully accepts the truth of God, purifies himself and projects truth, purity and love.