By Rafaela Prifti/
MAY 19 – The parishioners and guests gathered to celebrate three quarters of a century of prayer at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church as Archbishop Nikon blessed the temple and most importantly the people of the community. A delegation of senior Vatra representatives included Chairman Dritan Mishto and Board Members Marjan Cubi and Zef Balaj. The presence of the civic leaders and diplomatic corps was recognized by Father Niko. Special thanks were given to Imam Tahiri who attended the prayers and to Father Popaj who was unable to be present but sent his greetings. Saturday morning service is part of an ongoing celebration of the physical renewal the building as well as the spiritual appreciation for the Church’s lasting legacy.
Initially located in Manhattan, the Church has moved to its current location in the Jamaica Estates area of Queens in 1970. The Project of Beautification that began last year has provided new floors and walls and an upgrade of the interior. As stated in the flyer prepared for the occasion, the restoration and preservation of the icons are an important part of the Church’s heritage and inheritance. The credit for repairing and restoring the original icons of the parish goes to a seasoned restoration artist Edmond Agalliu. Additionally, he has completed four new icons that adorn the walls. Three opening for large new icons and four portable icons are available for sponsorship that has the option of being acknowledged with an inscription. “Whether memorials or tributes or requests for prayer, these additional icons will stand for many, many more years incorporated into the life of worship and praise here at St. Nicholas Church.” confirms the brochure.
To begin the celebration of seventy-five years of prayer and service, Archbishop Nikon blessed the Project of Beautification that began last year. The reading of the liturgical passages and the swearing of the officers of the Parish Council were carried out ceremonially. His eminence delivered the service with a clear message: Be thankful for the church and be thankful for one another. The church is not a building, the church is the people, the church is YOU!
After the ceremony, I was about to head out of the building in the pouring rain of Saturday afternoon. The Parish Council Chair, James Liolin, insisted on providing a safe and dry ride to my next destination. Through a random act of kindness outside the church, I understood that its community lives by the words it preaches.
During this year, the Church will celebrate through several events. Its past, present and the future it represents will be documented in a Commemorative 75th Anniversary Journal.