Papal Photographer Arturo Mari Visits The Polish Mission

2585On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, we were most honored to host Mr. Arturo Mari, papal photographer, at our Orchard Lake campus for the afternoon.  He toured southeastern Michigan over the weekend speaking at a few parishes and sharing his testimony and experiences as a papal photographer, and personal photographer of St. John Paul II.

Click here to see all the photos!

When Marcin Chumiecki, director of The Polish Mission, discovered that Mari was going to be in town, he quickly contacted the team coordinating Mari’s visit and asked them if arrangements could be made for him to visit the Orchard Lake Schools campus for an afternoon before his flight.  They agreed, and the Polish Mission team leapt into action!

Preparations were made for a luncheon, featuring some of our favorite Polish foods, to welcome Mari to our campus.  About 35 OLS staff members, students from SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary and friends of the Orchard Lake Schools met to share a meal with Mari and hear him share a few words about his experiences being a papal photographer.  It was so enjoyable to share our Polish food traditions with a born and bred Italian!2619

Mari spoke to those gathered and told the seminarians that he was overjoyed to see the young people (seminarians) in the dining room with him.  He said they reminded him of his son, a priest, who was ordained by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  Mrs. Adriana Milani, future St. Mary’s Preparatory mom, served as Mari’s translator throughout his entire visit, and we thank her very much for her time.

After lunch in the dining hall, Mari and the Polish Mission delegation walked over to the Castle (the oldest building on our Orchard Lake campus) to visit and see the guestroom where St. John Paul II stayed during his time on campus in 1969 and 1976.  Mari quietly walked around the room, and one can only imagine what he might have been thinking about his friend and Holy Father, John Paul II, whose 11-year death anniversary was on April 2, 2016.


After a photo op in the Castle with administrative staff and those who helped coordinate details for the day, Mari sat down in the Walnut Room to sign the famous guestbook that holds the signatures of all influential figures and guests who visit the Orchard Lake Schools campus or stay in the Castle guestrooms.


Finally, Mari’s last stop for the day was at Our Lady of Orchard Lake Shrine Chapel where the entire student body of St. Mary’s Preparatory was gathered to hear Mari share his story.  Mari and Milani sat at the front of the chapel, with Mari’s Italian/Polish translator, to address the students, teachers and guests.2651

He shared his hopes and dreams for this generation: how humble St. John Paul II was: the great love he had for all human life. He shared that being among so many young people reminded him of his own son and also all the young people that John Paul touched through his life and is continuing to minister through his legacy.  Mari told a story about how the saint would welcome anyone to him: those of different religions, lepers, disabled persons, and even the man who tried to murder him.  Mari said that he was a man of immense love for God’s people, and was humble enough in his lifetime that he recognized the value of humanity and life.


It was a moving day and it was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our commitment as an organization to carry on the legacy of the Polish Pope, St. John Paul II.