In Memoriam: Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky (1943-2021)

The Eastern Diocese was deeply grieved by the passing of Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, distinguished priest of the Orthodox Church in America, a pioneering figure on the worldwide ecumenical stage, and a great friend of the Armenian Church. Fr. Kishkovsky passed away on August 3, 2021, after a period of declining health. He was 78.

Born on March 24, 1943, in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, Poland, Kishkovsky’s family later fled the approach of the Red Army to live for several years as refugees in West Germany. The family arrived in the United States in 1951 to settle in Los Angeles.

During his 52 years serving as a priest of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Fr. Leonid would serve in a variety of influential roles, including as editor of its flagship publication, The Orthodox Church, and as director of OCA’s Office of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations. In the late 1980s he was elected as President of the National Council of Church in the U.S.A., becoming the first Orthodox clergyman to serve in that capacity. (The second was Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese.) Fr. Leonid also represented the OCA in the World Council of Churches and served on the WCC’s governing bodies.

Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan referenced this pioneering role on the ecumenical stage in a condolence letter to Metropolitan Tikhon, leader of the Orthodox Church in America. “Fr. Leonid was nothing less than a pillar of Orthodox life in America,” he said, “whose influential presence was felt throughout the entire church, from the mid-20th century through the present day.”

Bishop Daniel continued: “I was blessed to have the opportunity to meet, work, and pray with Fr. Kishkovsky—and those personal encounters are cherished memories of my own ministry.  But even before meeting him in person, I had looked to Fr. Kishkovsky with the greatest admiration. I daresay that there is not a single clergyman of any Orthodox tradition serving in America who did not regard Fr. Leonid as a model and inspiration. I know for a fact that our Armenian clergy and faithful looked upon him as a beloved brother, took great pride in his accomplishments, and regarded him with the deepest respect and trust.”

Funeral services for Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky will take place on Thursday, August 12, at Our Lady of Kazan Church in Sea Cliff, NY, where he had served as pastor since 1974. He is survived by his wife Matushka Alexandra, their daughters Sophia and Maria, and their families.

Read more about Fr. Kishkovsky on the website of the Orthodox Church in America; click the link to read an inspiring memorial to his life and ministry. In the meantime, we offer prayers for the repose of our Lord’s faithful servant, and for the consolation of his flock and loved ones. May the memory of the righteous be blessed.

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