Archpriest Leonid Upshinsky

Leonid Vladimirovich Upshinsky was born in the village of Kilmaz, in the Vyatka Province (renamed Kirov by the Soviet authorities), on 22 March 1907. He was the son, and a grandson, of priests.

After the Civil War the Upshinsky family fled to Manchuria and settled in the Russian-built city of Harbin. Although studying to be an engineer, Leonid followed his father’s advice and enrolled in a course of theology at the St Vladimir’s Theological Institute in Harbin. In 1932 he married Maria Sergeevna Taranova and they had two children.

Upon completion of his theological studies, Leonid was ordained to the diaconate on 17 April 1943 by the Right Reverend Dimitry Vosnesensky Bishop of Hailar, and the following day, was ordained to the priesthood. Fr Leonid was appointed to a number of Harbin churches and spent six years in the railway town of Yablona. In 1953 he was returned to Harbin and elevated to the dignity of archpriest on 19 August on that year. He was appointed to be the secretary of the Bishop’s Conference of Harbin.

On 11 June 1957 Fr Leonid and family migrated to Australia and settled in Brisbane. Archbishop Sava appointed him to be rector of St Seraphim’s church and, from 1 March 1958, to also minister to the Our Lady of Vladimir parish in Rocklea. Despite his poor health, Fr Leonid had to work in a furniture factory to feed his family, and celebrate on weekends and evenings. Matushka Maria also worked cleaning houses. A group of Fr Leonid’s Harbin parishioners living in California, heard of the hardships which the Upshinsky’s endured and decided to pay passage for him and his family to migrate to America. They sent £500.0.0 which paid for the relocation and Fr Leonid left Australia on 7 July 1959.

He was secretary and clerk of the West American Diocese of ROCOR during the reign of St Bishop John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco. Until 1966, he was the rector of the Church of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk at the orphanage in the city of San Francisco. He taught the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament at the courses in the home of the shelter of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk. Then the rector of the house church of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God of the Church School at the Cathedral in San Francisco and the director of the church school. He taught school students church reading, singing in the choir, ministry at the altar, etc.

He died of lung cancer, on 11 December 1971, aged 63 years.

Fr Leonid Upshinsky with two parishioners
Fr Leonid Upshinsky with two parishioners standing in front of the original Rocklea parish church in 1959. (Photo courtesy N & T Maleevsky)