Protopresbyter Alexander Kiselev

Protopresbyter Alexander Kiselev, a retired priest of the Orthodox Church in America, fell asleep in the Lord in Moscow, Russia on October 2, 2001, just five days before his 92nd birthday.

Father Alexander was born in Tver, Russia on October 7, 1909. Following his marriage to Kallista Kalder and completion of Orthodox theological seminary studies in Riga, Latvia, he was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by Metropolitan Alexander of Revel (now Tallinn), Estonia in August 1933. The first eight years of his priesthood were spent serving Orthodox parishes in Estonia. During this time, the current Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Aleksy II, served as an altar boy in Fr. Alexander’s parish.

With the outbreak of World War II, Fr. Alexander and his family were forced to flee Estonia and therefore from 1941 to 1949, Fr. Alexander served parishes in Germany. In Berlin (1941-1945) he was with Archimandrite Ioann (Shahovskoy), who was then a priest in the exarchate headed by Metropolitan Evlogy (in Paris) and later was an archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America. In Munich (1945-1949) he ministered to Russian Orthodox refugees and was released by his canonical hierarch in Paris to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), whose center was then in Munich.

In 1949, the Kiselev family arrived in the United States and Fr. Alexander was received into Russian Orthodox Metropolia (now the OCA), and was assigned to Astoria, New York, where he served at Holy Trinity Church for two years. In 1951, he established St. Seraphim Church on the upper west side of Manhattan, where he would serve for the next 40 years. At the same time, he also founded St. Seraphim Foundation, a charitable organization that assisted Russian immigrants and sent various forms of aid around the world and to Russia, when possible.

Since his youth, Fr. Alexander was active in the Russian Student Christian Movement and therefore at an early age, he came into contact with and was able to benefit from the influence of such luminaries as Frs. Sergius Chetverikov, Alexander Eltchaninoff, Vasily Zenkovsky and many others. This influence perhaps contributed to Fr. Kiselev becoming an effective preacher, prolific writer and a capable pastor and father confessor. Additionally, Fr. Alexander created a US affiliate of the Paris based Russian Student Christian Movement which held conferences and other events through his organizational efforts. In 1978, he began to publish a journal called “Russkoye Vozrozhdeniye” (Russian Renaissance) which through its articles on Orthodox spirituality, Russian literature and philosophy promoted Fr. Alexander’s belief that the revival of Russia is possible only through the Orthodox faith. This journal continues to be published in Moscow.

When the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in North America received autocephaly from the Moscow Patriarchate and adopted the name Orthodox Church in America, Fr. Alexander, acting on his desire remain Russian Orthodox, left the OCA and was accepted into the ROCOR. Subsequently, when the communist totalitarian system collapsed in the early 1990s, Fr. Alexander returned to the OCA, acting on his desire to remain in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

With the fall of the Soviet Union, Fr. Alexander and Matushka Kallista fulfilled a life-long dream of returning to live in Russia. In 1992, they settled in Moscow at the Donskoy monastery. The office of St. Seraphim Foundation, managed by their daughter Militsa and her husband, Igor Holodny, was also transferred to the Donskoy Monastery where it still continues its charitable, educational and publication efforts. In Moscow, as long as his health permitted, Fr. Alexander served and preached in various churches around Moscow, while particularly concentrating his manifold pastoral efforts, as he had throughout his life, on young people. He maintained close and friendly relations with his former altar boy, who had become Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Russia. It is said that in recent years, he was the only living person who could address His Holiness using the informal “ty” pronoun.

With the blessing of His Holiness, Fr. Alexander was buried at Donskoy Monastery next to Matushka Kallista, who reposed in 1997. Fr. Alexander is survived by his two children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and countless Orthodox faithful who benefited from his zealous pastoral and spiritual efforts throughout nearly seven decades of his priestly service to Christ and His Holy Church.

May God grant blessed repose to His newly departed faithful servant, Protopresbyter Alexander, and make his memory to be eternal.