In Memoriam: His Grace Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald)

Lee Roy Howard Fitzgerald, the son of LeRoy and Dorothy (Higgins) Fitzgerald was born in Detroit, MI on November 14, 1932.  A month later, he was baptized in the Lutheran Church.


After high school, he initially enrolled at St. Olaf College in Minnesota from 1952 to 1954.  Later that year, he enlisted in the US Army, serving until 1957, and was able to further his education at Wayne State University in Detroit, from which he graduated in 1958.  In 1960, he reenlisted in the military, this time as a commissioned officer in the Air Force.  While stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, he was received into the Orthodox Church through Chrismation in September 1960 by Father Peter Zolnerowich at the Base Chapel and given the name Stephen.  He continued his work as an Air Force intelligence officer until 1971, having taken a year’s leave during the 1965-66 academic year for studies at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in New York.  His final military assignment was at the Pentagon, during which time he was a parishioner of Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC.


After honorable discharge from the military, he was ordained to the diaconate and assigned to Saint Nicholas Cathedral on December 19, 1971 by Bishop Dmitri (Royster), who was then auxiliary Bishop of Washington, DC.  Effective September 15, 1972, Deacon Stephen was transferred to Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral in Los Angeles.  In 1978, guided by Archpriest Dimitry Gisetti, Cathedral Rector, Father Stephen petitioned for ordination to the priesthood.  His petition having been accepted, he was ordained on July 9, 1978 by Bishop Gregory (Afonsky) of Alaska, who was then serving as temporary administrator of the Diocese of the West, and assigned as second priest of the Cathedral.  Upon the retirement of Father Dimitry the following year, Father Stephen became Cathedral Rector in December 1979.  In 1982, he was elevated to the rank of archpriest.  For years, he was a member of the Diocesan Council and represented the diocese on the Metropolitan Council.  He also served as District Dean, member of the Diocesan Court, and, finally, as Diocesan Chancellor from 1984-86.  An Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly was convened on March 12, 1987 in San Francisco to nominate a candidate for diocesan bishop.  As neither of the candidates – Archpriest Stephen Fitzgerald and Hieromonk Alexander (Golitzin) – received the required 2/3 of votes from Assembly delegates, the names of both candidates were submitted to the Holy Synod of Bishops for consideration.  On March 17, 1987, Father Stephen Fitzgerald was formally elected to the episcopacy by the Holy Synod of Bishops.  On March 24, 1987, he received monastic tonsure and was given the name Tikhon (Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk) at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in Pennsylvania. He was subsequently elevated to the rank of archimandrite on April 11 (Lazarus Saturday) of the same year.  Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco and the West was consecrated at San Francisco’s historic Holy Trinity Cathedral on May 30, 1987, with Metropolitan Theodosius (OCA Primate) presiding in concelebration with Bishops Dmitri (Royster) of Dallas and the South, Boris (Geeza) of Chicago and the Midwest, and Job (Osacky) of Hartford and New England.  A digital scrapbook of the consecration including a photo gallery may be viewed here.


Under Bishop Tikhon’s episcopal oversight, the diocese experienced significant growth with the establishment of numerous mission parishes.  His Grace exhibited great love for the divine services, and as chief shepherd of his diocese drew the attention of his clergy to matters of proper liturgical order through archpastoral letters of direction and his own methodic example.  These instructions can be found in a collection of writings on a diverse array of ecclesial subjects from various authors.  Though the see of the ruling hierarch of the Diocese of the West has historically been San Francisco, it was under Bishop Tikhon that it was temporarily expanded to include Los Angeles.  In March 2005, the Holy Synod approved Bishop Tikhon’s request to change his title to “Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles and the West”.


At the Fall Session of the Holy Synod in October 2006, Bishop Tikhon petitioned to retire from active ministry, which was granted effective November 14, 2006.  In retirement, Bishop Tikhon lived quietly at Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral in Los Angeles, where he had resided since his assignment there as a deacon in 1972.  While his health permitted, His Grace prayerfully and unassumingly attended the divine services at the cathedral, where he was beloved and esteemed, particularly by those parishioners who had known him for decades.

The schedule of services will be posted as they are received.

May our Lord accept His faithful servant, Bishop Tikhon, into the Heavenly Kingdom and may his memory be eternal!

May Bishop Tikhon’s memory be eternal!

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