Still rebuilding at Ground Zero

A couple weeks ago, I went to the liturgy at a Greek Orthodox church in Brooklyn. One of my best friends goes there and her fiance is taking instruction there at Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral. My daughters will be in their wedding and they thought it might be good for them to have a refresher on what Greek services are like before the big wedding day. It turns out that my friends' congregation has welcomed those worshipers displaced by the destruction of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. That happened on September 11, 2001, when Muslim terrorists hijacked commercial aircraft and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers, causing them to come crashing down.

St. Nicholas was the only house of worship destroyed in those terrorist attacks that day.

And it still isn't rebuilt. That's part of a longer and frustrating story involving bureaucratic bungling and fighting. And while it does get coverage here and there, it's nothing compared to, say, media interest in the mosque and Islamic Center being built near Ground Zero at the site of a building that suffered damage from the attack.

When I was visiting Sts. Constantine and Helen, the St. Nicholas priest gave a presentation at the end of the service that had something to do with a rally to resolve these problems. He was, of course, speaking completely in Greek and so I'm going based on the translation my friend provided and the visuals he was pointing to. The congregation also passed a plate around specifically for funds for St. Nicholas. I thought of how odd it was that this poor congregation, the only one displaced by that day's events, would suffer in such silence.

All that to say, Religion News Service did publish a story on the rally. And while it's a pretty basic story, it's noteworthy for its mere existence. I do find it curious that this story is so unimportant to broadcast networks and other larger outlets. Here's a chunk:

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have been at odds for several years over the cost and exact location of the rebuilt church.

"Shame on the Port Authority to take this long to rebuild our church," Nicholas A. Karacostas, supreme president of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, a national Greek-American group, at a rally that drew about 100 people to the site of the former World Trade Center.

"It's a crime, it's a crime for us to beg them to rebuild the church in its rightful place."

Less than three months before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the church's pastor, the Rev. John Romas, said he and his flock are frustrated that negotiations have been stalled for almost a year.

"Let us hope our prayers will be answered," Romas said.

The story explains why the Port Authority is involved in this dispute and gives details about the small parish that was displaced in the attacks.

We also learn that speakers are frustrated by how much support the New York City government and its officials -- including Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- have given to the mosque near Ground Zero considering what St. Nicholas has endured.

Can you imagine being displaced from your parish home for 10 years? The uncertainty, more than anything, would be my greatest difficulty. In any case, this is an interesting story and nice to see one news service view it as one worth highlighting.

Photo of St. Nicholas from St. Nicholas web site.

Please respect our Commenting Policy