I am a lifelong Central Illinois resident and a parishioner of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Peoria. My wife's parents are immigrants from a small village outside Athens. My wife (Maria) and I have two young sons, Christian age 4 and Dimitrios age 3. I am also a member of Chicago Metropolitan Council.
Fond du Lac, WI: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Appleton, Wisconsin, has held it’s last service. While this parish within the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago is merging with another, its parishioners have made sure the parish will be remembered forever. That is thanks to a $100,000 contribution to the construction of the St. Nicholas National Shrine in New York City at the site of Ground Zero.
Founded in 1916, St. Nicholas of New York City had for a long time lived in the shadow of it neighbors, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. At only 35 feet tall, the parish was dwarfed by its 110 story neighbors just a block away. When the massive towers collapsed on 9/11/2001, the tiny church was buried, the only house of worship destroyed that day.
Currently under construction, the new St. Nicholas National Shrine will not only serve as a Greek Orthodox parish, but will also be open to the public and welcome all individuals of faith. Located directly across the street from the Twin Towers 9/11 Memorial, this quiet place of reflection and prayer will be comforting for generations to come who visit the site. More information on the current construction status of St. Nicholas National Shrine can be found at www.StNicholasWTC.org.
In Wisconsin, the small congregation of St. Nicholas in Appleton struggled for years to keep its doors open. Wanting to preserve its memory, the congregation approached their Hierarch for direction. The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, overseen by His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, has jurisdiction over all of the Greek Orthodox parishes within Wisconsin as well as Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and large parts of Indiana and Missouri.
With the blessings of the Metropolitan, the congregation decided to donate a large portion of remaining assets from the sale of property and prior savings in Appleton to the St. Nicholas National Shrine. His Grace Bishop Demetrios, Chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago, personally flew to New York to hand the $100,000 contribution from the parish to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.
Of the March 6 meeting, Bishop Demetrios said, “His Eminence was very appreciative of such an amazing and generous contribution to the National Shrine.” He continued, “With this contribution, the name of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Appleton will forever be placed among the Shrine’s benefactors. St. Nicholas in Wisconsin will live on as a part of St. Nicholas in New York.”
As for the future of the parishioners in Appleton, many have found a new home in the neighboring Greek Orthodox Parish of Holy Trinity in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The two parishes are undergoing an official merger.
According to Dena Meyst, Parish Council President of Holy Trinity, “This is a momentous occasion for both of our communities. We are happily looking forward to welcoming the Orthodox faithful of St. Nicholas into our Holy Trinity community. As part of our mission we are committed to reach out to all Orthodox Christians in the Fox Valley and surrounding area and let them know that the doors of Holy Trinity are open and welcoming to all.”
Parish Priest Fr. Theodore Trifon added, “Although the parish of St. Nicholas is closed, their members should know they are not without a church. Holy Trinity is waiting to embrace them with open arms and serve their spiritual and any other needs they may have.”
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