Protocol 161/11

September 11, 2011

The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this Sunday, the tenth anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we address you in the faith, love and hope that we share in our Lord Jesus Christ.  As we gather in our places of worship on this day, we cannot help but call to mind the dreadful acts of terrorism and the tremendous destruction that shocked the entire world and burdened every heart with pain and sorrow. As we now pause on this solemn anniversary to remember the nearly three thousand innocent lives lost that day, among whom were many Orthodox brothers and sisters, let us also remember the great acts of self-sacrifice, heroism, and compassion that can never be forgotten, as so many offered their lives for the safety and well being of others. And let us remember our church of Saint Nicholas, the only house of worship destroyed on that day of hatred, and for which we lovingly and unceasingly work to rebuild at Ground Zero.

We ask all of the parishes of the Holy Archdiocese of America to conduct a memorial service at the end of the Divine Liturgy today, and to join with others throughout this nation and the world in recognizing this as a solemn day of remembrance, as we offer prayers for the eternal memory and repose of the innocent victims of the barbaric attacks and for those who heroically fell in the line of duty attempting to help others and save lives. We shall continue to offer prayers for and ministry to the families who lost loved ones on that day.  In the years that have followed the tragic events of September 11, 2001, so many of you have given generously to meet the needs of these families.  We give thanks to God for this outpouring of compassion that is a genuine expression of faith in Him and an offering of consolation and assistance to so many.

On this tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, as we remember with faith and love the fallen and those who lost so much, we also affirm our hope for the future, enshrining this hope in the rebuilding of Saint Nicholas Church. While we cannot bring back except in memory those who perished that day, we can bring back our Church as a visible sign that hatred can never conquer love, and evil can never defeat good. I call upon all of you to offer fervent prayers for the victims – both dead and living, and prayers that our efforts to rebuild Saint Nicholas will soon come to fruition.  From the smoldering ruins of that horrific day, may the Lord give us glory instead of ashes (Isaiah 61:3) so that all people may find solace, peace and recollection in the new Saint Nicholas edifice that will rise at Ground Zero, and know the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Philip. 4:7) which comes only from our Lord Jesus Christ.  

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America