In a symbolic boost of confidence at a critical juncture of the rebuilding process of St. Nicholas at Ground Zero, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America declared that completing the church was “a matter of dignity and pride for Hellenism and Orthodoxy.”
“We must complete this church,” the Archbishop concluded to roaring applause as he accepted a symbolic check for $1 million from the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) at their 97th Grand Banquet in Chicago.
AHEPA fulfilled the remaining balance— almost $200,000 of its $1 million contribution— monies raised from the organization’s vast grassroots network throughout the nation and world.
The move by AHEPA sends a powerful message that the community is rallying to rebuild what has been called a “national embarrassment.”
Construction was halted when bank accounts ran dry and millions of dollars of change orders were requested by the previous Archbishop of America, which increased the cost by millions of dollars.
It was also discovered that the monies raised for St. Nicholas were used to cover unrelated expenses of the archdiocese, violating donor intent and getting state and national attorney generals involved in an investigation.
In December of 2017, AHEPA had issued a statement, regretting what they called the “lack of transparency” regarding the finances of the project.
AHEPA Supreme President George Loucas and Chairman of the Board Nicholas Karacostas, who also served as the chairman of AHEPA’s Capital Campaign to rebuild Saint Nicholas, presented the donation to Archbishop Elpidophoros.
“Since 1922, AHEPA has stood by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America thus creating the ‘Twin Pillars of Hellenism’ in America that we see today,” Loucas said, adding that “We are deeply grateful to the AHEPA family; to our amazing grassroots network of districts, chapters, and dedicated members, all of who made this landmark donation a reality.”
Karacostas added, “We are proud to be the only secular organization to make and fulfill a one-million-dollar donation to this campaign.”
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