Address by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
At the Consecration Vespers
Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine
New York, NY
July 3, 2022
Your Eminence Elder-Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon,
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
We have been privileged this evening to have Your Eminence, the Elder-Metropolitan of Chalcedon and representative of His All-Holiness, our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, preside over this Consecration Great Vespers of our Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine.
Last year, Your Eminence, you accompanied His All-Holiness in order to open the doors of this Sacred Space, on the blesséd day of our Spiritual Father’s Thirtieth Anniversary of his Enthronement on the See of the First-Called Apostle Saint Andrew. We stood together as the First Throne of Orthodoxy – the sacred person of our Ecumenical Patriarch, blessed the cross that sits atop this church, and brought with his own hands the precious Relic of Saint Nicholas into the church. Tonight, we thank His All-Holiness for sending you again into our midst to convey the blessing and benediction of the Mother Church for this new National Shrine of our Church in America.
I note with much pride and deep gratitude the long voyage that has finally – by the grace of God and the incredible labors of a few dedicated souls – attained this longed-for shore. And I see in the person of Your Eminence the love and care of the Mother Church of Constantinople – the very Church of my physical and spiritual birth.
We see in your venerable presence the abiding love of His All-Holiness, whose thirty-one years of Patriarchal ministry upon the Throne of Chrysostom have given hope to Orthodoxy and the entire world.
And in this resurrected church, inspired by the Great Church itself – our precious Hagia Sophia – we see a beacon of faith, hope and love that will inspire the world.
I also would like to take this moment to express my gratitude, and that of the Shrine, to His Beatitude Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia, who commissioned and gifted a full set of beautiful and ornate altar coverings for Saint Nicholas. We are deeply moved by his generous spirit.
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Finally, Your Eminence, we have with us tonight two brothers in Christ, who have offered exceptional service to the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine here at the World Trade Center: George Gigicos and Andrew Veniopoulos.
These two esteemed individuals have used their remarkable talents and skills to bring the Shrine to vital moments of its public reveal:
Last year, on the eve of September 11th, for the Lighting of the Shrine;
On the Thirtieth Anniversary of His All-Holiness’ Patriarchal tenure, for the Opening of the Doors by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew;
And tonight, for this Vespers and the Consecration tomorrow.
My dear George and Andrew, please come forward.
And now, Your Eminence, I respectfully ask that you please address us all and speak the good word of life in this church, which tomorrow morning will receive the grace and heavenly Chrismation of Renewal.