With the blessing of Pope Leo XIII and the permission of Bishop Casper Borgess, the archbishop of Detroit, the cornerstone of what was to become known as “The Polish Seminary” was laid on July 22, 1885, in the building that was being constructed on the corner of Forest St. and St Aubin Avenue. On that occasion, the founder of the Orchard Lake Schools, Fr. Joseph Dabrowski, shared the vision that was in his heart with all those who had gathered for that historic moment. He said, “I have in view the education of the Polish candidates for the priesthood and the education of others, so that they may be on par with other young men in this country… We Poles have the right to enjoy complete liberty in this country, but liberty cannot be enjoyed fully by uneducated people. The better a people is educated, the better they enjoy liberty and the better citizens they become of America… I deem the erection of this seminary more necessary than the building of expensive churches. Intelligence only makes men free.”
Today, 125 years later, we have the opportunity to experience and celebrate how Fr. Dabrowski’s dream has unfolded and been realized. Since 1885, over 3,000 priests have been educated and formed through the combined programs of Sts. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, St. Mary’s College and St. Mary’s Preparatory. Presently on campuses both at Orchard Lake and Krakow, Poland, the seminary is educating 63 students, preparing to serve as priests in over a dozen dioceses throughout the United States, and St. Mary’s Preparatory, with an enrollment of 480, is preparing young men from over 7 countries to be the future leaders of tomorrow in commerce and industry.
Not even Fr. Dabrowski could have imagined 125 years ago how many thousands of hearts, minds and souls would be touched and formed by the students who would be educated through his schools, and only God knows how many lives have been influenced by a graduate of the Orchard Lake Schools, but as the psalmist says, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us belongs the glory, but only to You.”
Thank you for your support – Rev. Timothy Whalen