Biography of Bishop Joseph Aloysius Kessler

Born August 12, 1862, in the Volga German colony of Louis [Otrogovka]. Graduated from minor seminary and Saratov Theological Seminary; ordained in 1889 for the Diocese of Tiraspol. Earned a master’s degree in theology at St. Petersburg Theological Academy. From 1889 he was vicar of the parish in Saratov and also taught at the Theological Seminary; from 1891, he was administrator of the parish in Simferopol; from 1895, pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Sulz [nka Veseloye]; from 1899, pastor in Kishinev; from 1903, inspector of the Theological Seminary in Saratov; in 1904 he became a canon. April 7, 1904 – appointed bishop of Diocese of Tiraspol (see in Saratov), and his episcopal consecration took place October 28 in St. Catherine Church in St. Petersburg. During his episcopal tenure the pastoral life of the Diocese of Tiraspol developed favorably: he expanded both the minor seminary and the Theological Seminary; he founded a publishing house and printing house; he attempted to have men’s and women’s orders work in the diocese; he visited all the parishes of his huge diocese; he performed 75,000 confirmations and dedicated thirty-one churches. August 14, 1918 – before the arrival of the Bolsheviks in Saratov, he left the city on foot and made it to Odessa. When the authorities occupied the curia and seminary they found his pastoral letter, in which he had declared the Bolsheviks to be the anti-Christ and he had warned all who supported this regime that they would be excommunicated from the Church. He became the object of a countrywide search, and therefore in January 1920 he secretly crossed the border from Odessa to Bessarabia, where he served in a parish in Krasnoye. Because Bessarabia declared its independence of the USSR to become part of the Kingdom of Romania, he was unable to return to Russia. In 1922 he went to America to raise money to help those starving in the famine along the Volga; he later went to Germany where he settled in Zinnowitz (on the shore of the Baltic Sea). He died December 10, 1933, in Zinnowitz and was buried in the church cemetery in Ornbau, Bavaria, alongside Bishop Franz Zottmann (the third bishop of Tiraspol, from 1872 to 1889). Sources: Dzwonkowski (1998), p. 287; Schnurr, pp. 312-314
Variant Names:
Kessler, Iosif Alonziĭ; Kessler, Joseph Aloysius
Luis (Ostrogozhsk (Russia)); Saratov (Russia); Tiraspol (Moldova); Saint Petersburg (Russia); Krasne (Odesʹka oblastʹ, Ukraine); Odesa (Ukraine)
male; clergy and religious; survived