Closure of SS Cyril & Methodius seminar after 137 years

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The SS Cyril & Methodius Seminary, a training ground for Polish priests at Orchard Lake since 1885, will close next year, the school announced to supporters on Thursday.

The board of directors overseeing the seminar recommended the closure, citing “declining enrollment caused by demographic changes in the United States, more professional opportunities in Poland and recent policy changes that do not allow seminarians Polish to move from one seminar to another, “the school said in a statement. declaration.

The seminary, which shares a 115-acre lakeside campus with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Preparatory High School, was praised by St. John Paul II, who visited there twice before becoming pope.

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More recently, the seminary was embroiled in a controversy with its former chancellor, Reverend Miroslaw Krol, accused in a lawsuit of sexual harassment of staff members. In the 2020 lawsuit, two men claim Krol pressured them into having sex, and during a previous stint in Orchard Lake, they recruited Polish seminarians to study and then invited them to sex parties in Detroit. , where sex was not always consensual. Krol has denied the allegations.

Stephen Gross, chairman of the board of regents of Orchard Lake schools, which oversees the seminary, high school and a Polish mission on campus, said the shutdown was unrelated to the lawsuit, which is ongoing.

The closure does not affect the high school or the Polish mission located on campus.

The closing of the seminar is all about the numbers, Gross said. The seminary currently has 11 men studying for the priesthood and the recruit pipeline is likely to close due to changes in the world church and in Poland, including the inability of seminarians to transfer.

“During the past 15 years, 90% of our seminarians were people transferred from seminaries in Poland,” he said. “It became very clear to us that we would literally no longer have any new seminarians.

The seminary began training Polish-speaking priests to serve American parishes that had large Polish congregations, Gross said. Over 1,000 of these priests have passed through Orchard Lake over the years.

Some churches in Detroit and Hamtramck still offer masses in Polish, but the days of large, exclusively Polish parishes are over, Gross said.

“It was a great institution that has done so much for the faith and for Polonia and for its mission for a very long time,” Gross said. “His mission has been fulfilled.

Most seminaries in the United States are run by dioceses, which employ the graduates. There were about 4,500 men studying in Catholic seminaries in 2018, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Gross said three of the men currently studying at Orchard Lake are expected to graduate before next year’s shutdown. The rest will be placed in other seminars in the United States, he said.

The seminary has several buildings on campus, including a dormitory. Gross estimated that the seminar comprises about 20% of the campus. Schools have yet to decide what to do with these buildings, he said.

Contact John Wisely: 313-222-6825 or [email protected] On Twitter @jwisely

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