Polish Americans in Defense of the Seminary at Orchard Lake

Pope St. John Paul II, who twice visited the campus, stated:
“If the Orchard Lake Schools did not exist, it would be necessary to establish them,”
and, “Fill Orchard Lake to capacity; sustain Orchard Lake; we need Orchard Lake!”
Statement in Defense of the Seminary at Orchard Lake by Polish Americans
On July 1, 2021, the Board of Regents of Orchard Lake Schools in Orchard Lake, Michigan
decided to close in 2022 the Theological Seminary that has been a part of the Orchard
Lake complex since 1909 and has been in existence since 1883.
For close to 150 years the seminary prepared candidates, both Polish and American, for
Catholic priesthood to serve throughout the United States.

The decision to close the facility was a surprise to the local Polish-American community as
it was made arbitrarily by the Board of Regents, without any prior consultations with
Polish-American organizations. We found out from an announcement in the press.

As Polish-Americans we consider this decision scandalous and disrespectful to our community since our Polish ancestors
bought the Orchard Lake estate over a hundred years ago for the purpose of locating the seminary there.
Not all Polish-Americans in the United States and even in Michigan realize how important to our culture, history and
identity is the Orchard Lake Center.

The seminary was founded in 1883 in Detroit by an extraordinary man with passion and faith – priest Józef Dąbrowski,
who understood the importance of forging a sense of identity, tradition, and faith in their new homeland for Polish
immigrants.

After the death of Father Dąbrowski, his worthy successor, Father Buhaczkowski continued this work. In 1909 he
purchased the Orchard Lake estate and moved all institutions from industrial Detroit to this new beautiful and peaceful
place.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit the library or the website of the Polish Mission on the internet.
Orchard Lake is a center that the Polish community should be proud of. Over many years of its existence, it was a place
for many educational, scientific, cultural, and documentary activities, such as collections of documents; mementos of
great (and ordinary) Poles; many valuable works of art; and archives of incredible historical value. The seminary
educated about 3,000 priests and professors as well as 15,000 Polish leaders who served the Polish diaspora and the
wider American community.

Over the years numerous Polish donors supported the seminary with thousands of dollars in donations.
These generous sponsors have provided funds for many new facilities on the campus, such as the Church of the Blessed
Virgin Mary, the Seminary Chapel, the Marian Grotto, the Polish Mission, and others.
Pope John Paul II said that “… if Orchard Lake did not exist, it would have to be created …”
Unfortunately, things have not been not going well at Orchard Lake in recent years.

When the seminary was created it was on the assumption it would be a basis for a center that would serve the needs of
the Polish diaspora similarly to places that serve the traditions and culture of other ethnic groups and minorities.
The mission of Orchard Lake Schools is expounded in documents that are available on the web. One of the goals is: “To
support and benefit Polish Studies and the Polish Cultural Mission …”

We have many questions about the current situation of Orchard Lake: Which of the institutions present on the campus
(Polish Mission, Seminary, Schools and Orchard Lake College) implement the mission as described in the bylaws?
For example, is there a mandatory course in Polish, Polish history, or literature in the school curricula? We are not aware
of such a course, perhaps we should be enlightened.

Does the decision to close the seminary mean that the administrators want to liquidate the Seminary in which priests
prepare Polish songbooks distributed to all Polish parishes nation-wide; in which Polish clerics are educated; and this
the mission of cultivation of Polish culture was pursued or is the plan to invest in the Orchard Lake Complex in the way that
“cultivation of Polishness” is just a slogan that does not reflect reality?

Does the closure of the seminary foreshadow a departure from the goals of the “Founding Fathers of the Seminary?”
Is this decision about a hostile takeover of the center of Polish heritage by people not related to the Polish diaspora and
Polish Catholic roots?!

The location of the Orchard Lake School is situated between two large lakes and is one of the most attractive pieces of
real estate in Oakland County. The land itself is worth over 100 million dollars.
The Polish diaspora is seriously concerned that the closure of the seminary is a first step towards the seizure of assets
worth millions that historically were under Polish- American control.

We are concerned and will not allow it! There are many questions to which the Board of Regents will have to answer.
Our Polish-American community is worried about the decline in priesthood vocations and their quality.
We care and fear for the future of our Church, which lies at the heart of our tradition, for those of us brought up in
patriotism, faith, and the tradition of Catholic heritage.

But there is also a strong conviction among us that there are wonderful honest priests in the Polish community, talented
administrators and that … “there are more people of goodwill.”

We need to recruit such priests to govern the Seminary and the Orchard Lake campus in general.

As Polish-Americans, as heirs of the heritage of Polish generations that built Orchard Lake:

• We categorically oppose the closing of the Seminary! We believe that the closure of the Seminary is another
step towards the eradication of the Polish heritage in Orchard Lake and perhaps it is a hostile takeover of
property funded by generations of the Polish community.
• We are convinced that it is in the interest of the Polish-American and Catholic community in the USA to have the
Orchard Lake Seminary is a viable institution educating seminarians of the high level of morality and a true
vocation.
• We demand from the Board of Regents that, in cooperation with the Polish Diaspora and leading Polish-American organizations, employ an administrator (Chancellor) from the Polish Diaspora, with appropriate
experience and education, who by his commitment will lead the re-development of the Seminary in the
direction consistent with the mission of the founders of the Orchard Lake Schools
• We demand proportionate membership in the Council of Regents for representatives of the Polish-American
the community who understand our heritage and interests and care for the preservation of Polish heritage
• We oppose departing from the idea of the “Founding Fathers” who founded the Orchard Lake Seminary
• We propose considering accepting new seminarians from American parishes and more proactive promotion of
the school.
• We demand transparency in the activities conducted by the management board!
• We think it’s easy to tear down something and much harder to rebuild, but it’s best to fix rather than destroy.
• Once again, we categorically demand that the Board of Regents revoke the decision to close the Seminary!

If you agree with the above postulates if Polish culture and tradition are important to you if you think that you cannot
waste the work and sacrifice of many generations of Poles, if you do not want to lose Polishness in Orchard Lake Schools
and give up our Polish heritage, please support our petition.

Please send your name by e-mail to: polskielobby@gmail.com

Do Not Wait to Support our Petition to Save the Polish Seminary and Polish Spirit at Orchard Lake Schools, 135 Years Old and the
Biggest Polish American Cultural, Educational and Spiritual Institution in the USA Now is Our Time to Defend it

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