I take this opportunity to convey my heartfelt appreciation to former Governor George Pataki for his initiative this afternoon to address the concerns of not only our own community but also citizens across our nation and the world regarding the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Church. Very soon after 9/11, the Governor expressed his commitment that this church would be rebuilt and this gathering manifests yet again that he is an honorable person who stands by his word. We are encouraged and deeply touched by this.
As it is well known, on September 11, 2001 our city and nation suffered a terrorist attack of unparalleled proportions. In addition to the tragic and horrific loss of almost 3,000 innocent victims, a number of whom were members of our own community, the world witnessed the unimaginable collapse of the Twin Towers. When the second Tower fell, it landed on and erased all traces of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, the only house of worship destroyed that day. Opened in 1916 by a group of Greek immigrants, the church not only served the spiritual needs of its parishioners but was also a sacred space in which people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds working in the surrounding area would often stop, light a candle and spend a few moments in prayer and reflection.
The Archdiocese and parish leadership of St. Nicholas remain firmly committed to the rebuilding of the church at 130 Liberty Street, honoring the long-standing agreement with the LMDC and the Port Authority. We believe and affirm that the new Church of St. Nicholas will have a far greater scope and outreach than a parish house of worship and envision the site as an appropriate memorial to the 3,000 innocent people of all Faiths who lost their lives that day. Trusting in Almighty God, we are hopeful that we will be successful in this sacred endeavor especially with the assistance and support of people such as our dear friend, Governor Pataki.
I convey my warmest paternal greetings and best wishes and invoke upon all of you the abundant blessings of the Almighty.
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