The Orchard Lake Schools, originally known as the "Polish Seminary," were founded in the late 19th century when the need arose for priests to care for Polish immigrants. In January 1879, Fr. Leopold Moczygemba, a Polish Franciscan priest, secured permission from Pope Leo XIII to establish a seminary in the United States to train men for the priesthood for that purpose.
Fr. Moczygemba entrusted this papal charter to Fr. Joseph Dabrowski, another Polish immigrant.
In July 1885, the cornerstone was laid for SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary on Detroit's east side. The first class of students enrolled in December 1886. After 24 years of growth and expansion, larger quarters were required and the seminary was transferred to Orchard Lake in 1909, some 25 miles northwest of Detroit, scenic grounds of the former Michigan Military Academy. Remodeling and new construction from 1912 through 1928 permitted further growth in enrollment. Three distinct schools – SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, St. Mary's College and St. Mary's Preparatory – emerged from a restructuring of the seminary in 1927-28, each with a four-year program.
Through extensive fundraising efforts, support for the Schools in the Polish American community increased, making possible the construction of seven buildings, including a library, dormitory, dining hall, Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake and the Robert Dombrowski Fieldhouse. Between 1957 through 1973, four auxiliary centers were established on campus as unique resources to the community at large. In 2000, the Frank and Mary Padzieski Science Center and the Stanley Bielawski Brent Chapel were dedicated.
Organizations, programs and policies of the Schools continued to change as needs in society and in the Church changed. Non-divinity students were again admitted to the college in 1969. Women and commuter students in the college and theologate soon followed. The Seminary developed new programs for lay ministries in addition to that of priesthood formation. The preparatory offered a day school option to its traditional boarding school program in 1985.
Through extraordinary sacrifices of faculty, staff, alumni and benefactors, the Orchard Lake Schools have educated thousands of students and priests in the campus community’s history. Their mission and accomplishments continue to be unique.
Buildings & Facilities
- SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary
- Seminary Administration & Residence Hall
- SS. Cyril & Methodius Chapel — A Gift of Stanley Bielawski Brent
- Campus Academic Center
- Adam Cardinal Maida Alumni Library
- Galeria one-story military structure of red brick
- Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake
- Marian Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
- Orchard Lake Schools Administration Building
- Fr. Andrew Wotta Center
- Father John Rakoczy Gymnasium
- St. Mary’s Athletic Center & Dombrowski Fieldhouse
- St. Mary’s Bookstore