The Heart of Polonia. SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, long known as the Polish Seminary for its focus on helping Poles evangelize America, is home to worship sites in Orchard Lake, Michigan near Detroit in addition to a formation house in Krakow, Poland.
Our U.S. campus has been graced by Holy people, including honorary alumnus St. John Paul II (who was here in 1969 and 1976 as Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, prior to becoming Pope John Paul II). Two holy alumni have been nominated for sainthood – Father Walter Ciszek (author of With God in Russia and He Leadeth Me) and Father Joe Walijewski. Father Zdzislaw Peszkowski, who miraculously survived the Katyn Massacre, was nominated for the Nobel Prize by the Polish government.
“There is no greater anguish or absurdity for a person than not to have a proper knowledge of why he lives and what his purpose is on earth,” St. John Paul II said during his first Orchard Lake visit. “We must go through life by various roads and ways, which we must try to understand and interpret. Once we know them, we must follow them . . . This is the mystery of Orchard Lake. Here we can settle the most important item of our spiritual life – the item of a vocation to serve God in the best way for Him and for us.”
Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake/Shrine of St. John Paul II
The Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake, located in the center of the property to symbolize the heart of the campus, was designed to serve as a worship place for the entire Orchard Lake Schools community (all-school Mass is held here each Wednesday and Friday). For the past half century, the Shrine has also served as a pilgrimage site for Poles and Polish Americans. Worshippers come here daily for Eucharistic Adoration.
Features: The Shrine Chapel, home to the largest copper stature of Our Lady in the world, features the relics of St. John Paul II as well as a large Our Lady of Czestochowa icon he gave to the community in 1969. Our Lady of Orchard Lake represents Polonia and the integration of the Polish and American cultures. Behind the main Altar stand life-sized images of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Outside the Chapel is a seated statue of the Polish Seminary founder, Father Joseph Dabrowski. Seating; 750
Polish Seminary Chapel – The Stanley Bielawski Brent Chapel. Every day, Orchard Lake seminarians celebrate Mass in a 21st century yet distinctively Polish Seminary Chapel attached to SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, where seminarians live and study. Designed specifically for seminarians and lay students, celebrants stand in the center of a round Chapel based on the Sandomierz Crown worn by the first Polish kings at the dawn of Polish Christianity.
Features: The Chapel includes the relics of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, who is venerated during each Mass near images of Our Lady of Czestochowa, St. John Paul II, SS. Cyril & Methodius and The Divine Mercy image. Other Polish saints are honored in glass images near the Tabernacle. Seating: 70
The Orchard Lake Grotto. More than 25,000 visitors come to the Grotto each year, along beautiful Orchard Lake off Seminary Drive, to reflect and pray. Special outdoor services, pilgrimages and prayer events are also held at the Grotto, a treasured part of the campus since the 1940s.
Features: The site includes a scenic grotto, benches and gardens, waterfalls and a majestic statute of St. John Paul II.
The Beach and Orchard Lake: Our campus sits on beautiful Orchard Lake (and includes beachfront access). Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) loved kayaking on Orchard Lake, and the kayak he used is on public display here.
Athletic Complex with NHL-Sized Ice Arena: Accommodates regular hockey games and events.
Father John Rakoczy Gymnasium: Includes an auditorium and facilities for soccer, basketball, volleyball and a weight room.
Campus Dining Hall: Includes five dining halls serving the entire campus.
The Galeria: A 19th century castle-shaped former chapel and current museum displaying Polish art and other cultural displays.
St. Mary’s Bookstore: Serves our entire campus and the public.
For more information call the bookstore at: 248-683-0321.
St. John Paul II (1920-2005): The future pontiff (at age 49, then the youngest cardinal in the world) – made an honorary alumnus and called “our father” when he arrived at Orchard Lake in September 1969 – visited Orchard Lake in 1969 and 1976. The night he arrived on campus, the future St. John Paul II told the seminarians and other students, “The Polish Seminary is the most important task that we must serve and preserve.’’ He spoke of “a most special’’ vocation in the Orchard Lake “setting.’’
Father Walter Ciszek (1904-1984): Author of the acclaimed classic
bestsellers, With God in Russia and He Leadeth Me, graduated from two Orchard Lake schools that helped prepare him for the priesthood,
St. Mary’s Prep and St. Mary’s College, before evangelizing in Poland and the Soviet Union. Persecuted for being a priest, he spent two decades in Soviet prisons and labor camps before returning to the United States in 1963 as part of a prisoner exchange. His cause for canonization began in 1990.
Father Joe Walkjewski (1924-2006): After graduating from SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, and before becoming a priest in the Diocese of La Cross, he was given two parish assignments in addition to being sent to South America as a missionary where he helped the poor. His cause for Canonization opened in 2013.
Father Zdislaw Peszkowski (1918-2007): Miraculously survived the Katyn Massacre, and was a graduate and a member of the SS. Cyril & Methodius faculty for four decades. He retired to Poland in 1990 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Polish Government in 2006.
Father Joseph Dabrowski (1842-1903):. Our founder, considered the father of the Polish Catholic education system in America, established the Polish Seminary and its sister schools and brought the Felician Sisters to Michigan.