Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, who oversaw fundraising for the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine acknowledged shortcomings in trust and leadership surrounding the rebuilding project but stated unequivocally that any funds taken will be returned.
His letter to donors was part of the December 2017 update on the building project, during which he stated that
“As an Archdiocese, we have much to do to rebuild trust and confidence in leadership,” adding that “In the coming weeks and months, there will be investigations into how funds were transferred from the St. Nicholas account and let there be no doubt that they will be returned.”
Let there be no doubt that they will be returned
Karloutsos, who is on a first name basis with sitting and past U.S. Presidents, foreign heads of state and business leaders throughout the world as a result of his advocacy efforts for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and Greek Orthodox Church matters internationally, personally raised tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors and orchestrated the largest single fundraising effort ever in the Greek American community, on behalf of St. Nicholas.
As he noted in his letter to the donors, people trusted him “with your precious resources, your confidence, and your friendship. I will not let you down.”
According to the December 2017 newsletter $48,991,760 has been pledged to date, while of that amount $37,398,316 has been collected, leaving a pledge balance of just over $11 million.
As reported, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America skimmed money from the St. Nicholas building fund to pay operations. According to the Archdiocese, a full investigation is under way to determine how the funds were used and how much money was actually taken.
Below is the complete text of Fr. Alex Karloutsos letter to donors:
As many of you have learned from the Press Release of the Archdiocese on December 9, 2017, and from other media, construction on our National shrine has temporarily halted1. I can assure you that this suspension of work will indeed be temporary, as the Archdiocese strives to make the necessary course corrections that have affected not only the Shrine, but the Seminary, and its day-to-day operations.
I have a deep and abiding commitment not only to this project – the most significant in the history of the Archdiocese– but also to you, the donors who have made this dream a reality. You have trusted me with your precious resources, your confidence, and your friendship. I will not let you down.
Just a few weeks ago, we laid to rest one of the great benefactors of Saint Nicholas, Peter J. Pappas, Sr. Peter and his beloved wife, Cathy, not only donated most significantly to the Shrine, but Peter was instrumental in developing the HVAC system for the Church, one that is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars and creating a more effective and quiet system. Believe it or not, Peter had to make a little noise in order to be heard with his brilliant solution, and perhaps the lesson for all of us is that the process of building should have been more open and included a wider set of advisors.
In the coming weeks and months, there will be investigations into how funds were transferred from the St. Nicholas account and let there be no doubt that they will be returned. We must also understand how the process surrounding change orders was conducted, for this has evidently increased the price of the building. As leadership evolves around the project, we will overcome any financial challenges and your commitments to the National Shrine will be honored.
In the meantime, you will hear many rumors and even some disinformation. I want you all to know that my phone line is always open to you (917-453-0839), to answer any question to the best of my ability. As most of you know, my specialty has always been on the income side of the equation, not the expense side.
I have dedicated myself wholly to the raising of the funds to complete Saint Nicholas, and I have trusted that the institutional structure would monitor the actual construction. Although we have raised enough money to complete the church as originally envisioned, change orders and other modifications have complicated the situation, but the repair work is already underway.
As an Archdiocese, we have much to do to rebuild trust and confidence in leadership, lest we fulfill a solemn warning of our Lord:
“For who among you, wanting to construct a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, to see if you have enough to finish? For if you do not, and you go ahead and lay the foundation and cannot fully complete it, everyone who sees it will take to ridiculing you and saying, ‘That fellow made a start of building it, but he could not finish it’.”
Since you’re here… I have a small favor to ask.
More and more people than ever before are reading The Pappas Post and despite increasing costs to maintain the site and provide you with the quality content that you deserve, I will never “force” you to pay for our website or add a paywall. I believe in the democracy of the internet and want to keep this site and its enriching content free for everyone. But at the same time I’m asking those who frequent the site to chip in and help keep it both high quality— and free. We’ve implemented a “free-will” annual subscription for those who want to support our efforts. I guess it’s fair to call it a philotimo subscription… because you don’t have to do it but it’s really the right thing to do if you love the site and the content we publish. So if you like The Pappas Post and want to help, please consider becoming a “philotimo subscriber”. Click here to subscribe. If you’d rather make a one time donation, we will gladly accept any amount, with appreciation. Click here to donate any amount.