Heroes of Saint Nicholas - October 2021 Recipient
The Friends of Saint Nicholas
The Friends of St. Nicholas, (FoSN) was organized in response to the financial crisis of the Archdiocese, which halted the construction of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine. Working with the highest levels of State and City government, Father Alexander Karloutsos, Dennis Mehiel, John Catsimatidis, and Michael Psaros worked to arrange a new nonprofit that would work with the Parish of Saint Nicholas to take the reins of the financial and construction arrangements and finish the rebuilding.
FoSN was incorporated on November 14, 2018, and its original incorporating officers were Michael Psaros, Elaine Allen, and Olga Pavlakos. As a nonprofit organization with its own tax exempt status, its sole “member” was the parish of Saint Nicholas, who were deeply involved in the creation of what is essentially an ancillary body to the Parish, but one that also develops the Shrine aspect of the rebuilt Church. This arrangement was agreed to by civil authorities, and was enthusiastically encouraged by then Governor Andrew Cuomo, as a way for the Church to regain the confidence of all the various constituencies at the both the World Trade Center site and in the general community as well.
In December 2019 and into 2020, the current form of FoSN took place with the members listed below, but it was not until the election of Archbishop Elpidophoros that a new possibility arose to end the hiatus in construction and fundraising that had plagued the project for nearly three years.
The Members of he Friends of St. Nicholas are now as follows:
- Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Honorary Chairman
- Father Alex Karloutsos, Vicar General
- Dennis Mehiel, Chairman
- Michael Psaros, Vice-Chairman
- John Payiavlas, Treasurer
- Chrysa Demos, Secretary
- Maria Allwin
- John Calamos
- John Catsimatidis (Vice Chair of the Archdiocese Council)
- John Georges
- George Marcus
- C. Dean Metropoulos
- George Mihaltses (President of the Saint Nicholas Parish Council)
- Dean Spanos
- George Stamboulidis
- Richard Brown, COO of Construction (pro bono)
Even a cursory look at this list demonstrates the tremendous capacity and the serious nature of FoSN. They have taken their responsibility to complete the Church to heart and are now well on the way to finishing the Church next year. According to their charge, FoSN will continue to function as is one year after the conclusion of the building of Saint Nicholas, and then morph into FoSN 2.0 to manage the endowment that is already forming.
The purposes of FoSN are spelled out in detail in their Bylaws, which are quoted here:
“Raising, investing and disbursing funds for the construction and further improvement of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at 130 Liberty Street.”
“Supporting the on-going operation and maintenance of the Church by exercising authority as may be delegated by the Parish and accepted by the Corporation.”
“Providing financial, management, advisory and service assistance and support to the construction and further improvement of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine.”
“Conducting audits no less than annually to ensure that Church construction is proceeding at an appropriately rapid pace, and that funds raised by the Corporation are used efficiently, and disbursed only for the purposes set out above.”
“Encouraging broad-based public support for the above purposes, including by actively working to assure that the general public is encouraged to make financial donations, large or small, to the Corporation, so that a strengthened connection is created between the Church and the widest possible community of its supporters”
Since its inception, the Friends of St. Nicholas have fulfilled every aspect of their mandate, and have exceeded every expectation for both fundraising and bringing construction back on line.
Their commitment to bringing the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine to fruition is unparalleled, and their vision for its future makes them all worthy to be Heroes of Saint Nicholas.
About the Heroes of Saint Nicholas
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Heroes emerged at Ground Zero – many of whom gave their lives. Since that fateful day, there have been contributions of enormous significance to the rebuilding of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. These are the Heroes Saint Nicholas.
Every month, we will highlight one of these persons who played a special role in making the National Shrine a reality. The gratitude of the Greek Orthodox Church toward these people is truly incalculable. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for what they have done to bring about the miraculous reconstruction of Saint Nicholas.