In Memoriam: Father Leonid Kishkovsky


Rauno Pietarinen

Kirkkomme suuri ystävä ja amerikkalaisen ja kansainvälisen ortodoksian suurmies isä Leonid Kishkovsky kuoli elokuun 3.päivänä. Oheinen muistokirjoitus on opiskelutoverini Mark Stokoen kanssa laadittu yhteisen ystävämme isä Leonidin muistoksi.

Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, one of the truly great Orthodox figures in America and the Orthodox world for the past 40 years, fell asleep in the Lord on August 3, 2021 in New York.  Fr. Leonid never sought the limelight, preferring to work behind the scenes using his position as Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations for the Orthodox Church in America to prevent misunderstandings, promote unity and inter-faith relations as well as rescue hostages, to call out the wicked, and to help the needy around the world.  His was a trusted voice in Orthodox ecumenical, inter-faith and governmental circles.

Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1943 to Russian parents.  His parents fled from Warsaw with him in 1944, just before the Warsaw uprising, becoming refugees in Germany. They immigrated to the United States as Displaced Persons and settled in Los Angeles, California.

After  studying  in history and political science at the University of Southern California, Fr. Leonid attended  St. Vladimir’s Seminary. He and his wife Alexandra (Mimi) Koulomzine met at a student retreat at the seminary, and married in 1969. Ordained priest in November 1969, Fr. Leonid was assigned to San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Cathedral to create an English-language mission in the Cathedral’s St. Innocent Chapel at a time when San Franscisco was a center of the 1960’s counter-cultural movement.

In 1974 Fr. Leonid was called to serve the Church of Our Lady of Kazan in Sea Cliff NY, and at the same time to work in the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America in nearby Syosset. He worked in the Chancery for the next 45 years. During his long service Fr. Leonid represented the OCA and the Orthodox Church as a whole in Orthodox, ecumenical, and inter-religious settings around the world with great distinction, including several trips to Finland, and hosting several Finnish hierarchs visiting the USA. He was very smart, very charming, very sophisticated; with a dry wit, a hearty laugh, and deep, thoughtful faith which he shared both in powerful sermons and in private conversation. Among his many honors Fr. Leonid was elected President of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in in the USA – the first Orthodox Christian to hold that post. He was also Moderator of Religions for Peace (international) and Religions for Peace USA;  Moderator of Christian Churches Together in the USA; a member of several World Council of Churches governing bodies for decades;  and  served on the Board of Directors of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). But through all of of his responsibilities, duties and many, many awards, no position was more important to him than being priest of the small Our Lady of Kazan Church, and the spiritual welfare of his beloved parishoners.

Fr. Leonid is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, two daughters, several grandchildren, and a church full of colleagues, friends and parishoners that he loved, to whom devoted his life, and who loved him in return.  May his memory be eternal!


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