The Orchard Lake Schools, originally known as the “Polish Seminary,” were founded in the late 19th century when the need arose for priests to minister to the huge numbers of Poles emigrating to the United States at the time. 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 to minister to these immigrants. Fr. Moczygemba entrusted this papal charter to Fr. Józef Dąbrowski, another Polish immigrant. In July 1885, the cornerstone was laid for Ss. Cyril and 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, under Fr. Witold Buchaczkowski, moved to Orchard Lake, Michigan 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 and 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. Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary and St. Mary’s Preparatory still function to this day. The Seminary boasts graduating over 2,000 seminarians who became ordained priests.
With their deep Polish heritage it is natural that the Orchard Lake Schools are home to the Polish Mission.