The Executive Committee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Archdiocesan Council has created a Special Investigative Committee to investigate what they call “allegations of: (a) potential mismanagement of the St. Nicholas Shrine construction project; and (b) the potential use of certain St. Nicholas Shrine restricted funds for the payment of Archdiocesan general operating expenses.”
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was destroyed on September 11, 2001, when the south tower fell during terrorist attacks that saw airplanes smashing into the iconic New York City skyscrapers. The tiny church, which was established by Greek immigrants who once occupied the neighborhood over a century ago, was turned to rubble.
Following years of legal wrangling with various state and government agencies about real estate matters, security issues and logistic details, plans to reconstruct the church were formalized and the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was enlisted to create a monumental structure that would serve both the parish community, as well as the millions of annual visitors to Ground Zero.
An ambitious $50 million fundraising campaign was launched, involving individual wealthy donors giving upwards of $1 million each, as well as dozens of parishes, organizations and individuals throughout the nation and world who all wanted to see this important church rebuilt.
St. Nicholas was the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11.
Earlier this year, reports emerged of a massive financial crisis that had engulfed the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and included, among other allegations, the misuse of funds earmarked solely for the St. Nicholas construction project.
In the non-profit world, this is known as earmarked or restricted money, when a donor gives an amount specifically for a said purpose. In other words, money raised for St. Nicholas’ rebuilding is only supposed to be used for that specific project.
But shortfalls at Archdiocesan headquarters related to operating expenses of the bloated institution led, according to allegations set forth in an official resolution passed by the Council’s executive committee, to the mismanagement of the fund, as well as the project as a whole.
According to the official resolution, shared with The Pappas Post, the new investigative committee will consist of four individuals: George Canellos, Nikiforos Mathews, Dennis Mehiel, and John Pappajohn, who will be charged with “investigating the allegations and recommending a course of action.”
The complete resolution that was passed by the Executive Committee is here.
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