New York – The nation’s largest and oldest grassroots service association for Greek Americans and Philhellenes, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), represented by Supreme President Phillip T. Frangos, laid one of the 24 white marble stones placed in two Cairns (a memorial collection of stones) at the Ground Blessing Ceremony for Saint Nicholas National Shrine at World Trade Center, 130 Liberty Street, October 18, 2014. The two Cairns are symbolic of the Twin Towers, the tragic loss of life from September 11, and the destruction of the original Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. They will eventually be installed permanently at the entrance of Saint Nicholas.

“It was an extremely moving experience to have the unique distinction to participate at today’s Ground Blessing Ceremony for Saint Nicholas National Shrine, and we are deeply grateful to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios,” Supreme President Frangos said.

“On behalf of the entire AHEPA family, we are committed to see Saint Nicholas rise again as a National Shrine where persons of all faiths and backgrounds can find peace and solace or devote time for reflection; and of course, serve again as a House of Worship for Greek Orthodox Faithful. When completed, Saint Nicholas will also affirm our unwavering resolve for the basic tenants of freedom and liberty that we all value and cherish.”

AHEPA and its affiliated organizations, the Daughters of Penelope, Sons of Pericles, and Maids of Athena, will support the campaign to build the Saint Nicholas National Shrine by raising funds during the next two years. Although AHEPA has been informally collecting donations for the campaign since its Supreme Convention in July, the organization will officially kick-off its two-year fundraising campaign with a National Day of Action on December 7, 2014 to coincide with the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas, which is celebrated December 6.

“We are ready to mobilize,” Chairman of the AHEPA-Saint Nicholas Fundraising Committee Nicholas Karacostas, a past supreme president and current chairman of the Board of Trustees, said. “Our grassroots is eager to raise funds and donate to the construction of the National Shrine. Our members are extremely enthusiastic about this endeavor as evidenced by the large number of AHEPA family representatives who came from across the United States and Canada to attend today’s ceremony.”

In addition to Supreme President Frangos, several AHEPA family leaders attended the Ground Blessing Ceremony, including: Daughters of Penelope Grand President Anna-Helene Grossomanides, Maids of Athena Grand President Deanna Socaris, Sons of Pericles Supreme President James Googas, Canadian President Ken Matziorinis, Chairman of the Board Nicholas Karacostas, PSP, who also chairs the AHEPA-Saint Nicholas Fundraising Committee; Executive Director Basil Mossaidis, DOP Executive Director Elena Saviolakis, and countless past and present national, district and chapter officers.