Board of Regents cites changing demographics in the need to shift mission of Orchard Lake Schools
ORCHARD LAKE — SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, the Orchard Lake school that has been educating priests from Poland to serve the Polonia community in the United States since 1885, is set to close after the 2021-2022 academic year.
The Orchard Lake Schools Board of Regents released a letter to the community on July 1 announcing the closure. The seminary said the 11 current seminarians at the school will have the opportunity to complete their studies either at their assigned dioceses or through another seminary.
Explaining the decision to close, Orchard Lake cited a “declining enrollment caused by changing demographics in the United States, along with more vocational opportunities in Poland and recent policy changes that do not allow for Polish seminarians to transfer between seminaries.”
Orchard Lake’s St. Mary’s Preparatory High School and the Polish Mission will continue operations following the seminary's closure. The Orchard Lake campus hosted St. Mary’s College until it closed in 2003, when Madonna University took over the school, eventually moving the program to its main Livonia campus.
The Board of Regents reaffirmed its commitment to its campus and pledged continued investment in St. Mary’s Prep, which opened a Girls Division in the 2020-21 academic year, as well as the Polish Mission, historic grotto, and Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake, which serves as the home of the Detroit Archdiocesan Shrine of St. John Paul II.
“While we accept and prepare for this change, we also keep top of mind our recent momentum as an organization,” the statement read, “including significantly increased enrollment at St. Mary’s Preparatory, excellent progress toward the new classroom building scheduled to open next year as a result of this trend.”
SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary got its start in Detroit on the corner of St. Aubin Street and E. Forest Avenue in Detroit in 1885 under the direction of Fr. Jozef Dabrowski, who asked Detroit Bishop Casper Borgess to create a seminary to prepare foreign-born seminarians to serve primarily Polish-American communities in the United States.
Increasing enrollment in 1909 prompted the school to move to its current Orchard Lake campus, then the site of the Michigan Military Academy. Orchard Lake Schools later expanded with the additions of St. Mary’s College and St. Mary’s Preparatory High School.
SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary is an independent Polish seminary run by Orchard Lake Schools. It is neither owned nor operated by the Archdiocese of Detroit but has long provided formation to Polish seminarians bound for parishes and other ministries in southeast Michigan and other U.S. cities with high Polish Catholic populations, as well as Poland.
“For more than 135 years, SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary has formed clergy and laity while serving as a bridge between the Catholic Church in Poland and the United States,” said Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron. “On behalf of the Archdiocese of Detroit, I share my sadness that this great service is coming to a close and my gratitude for Orchard Lake Schools’ continued commitment to maintaining and advancing the rich Catholic culture and heritage of Poland in southeast Michigan and beyond.”