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Rev. Msgr. Francis Koper, Longtime Rector of Orchard Lake’s SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Responds to Stephen Gross’ “Open Letter to Polonia From the Orchard Lake Schools”

By November 4, 2022December 11th, 2022No Comments3 min read

Monsignor Francis B. Koper

September 22, 2022

Stephen M. Gross
Chairman, Board of Regents
3535 Commerce Road
Orchard Lake, Michigan 48324
Dear Mr. Gross,

I am writing to sincerely thank you for “An Open Letter to Polonia from The Orchard Lake Schools,” which appeared on the Orchard Lake Schools website and recently came to my attention. I believe it succinctly and honestly articulates the facts about our beloved Alma Mater at this juncture in her long and glorious history. It is time to celebrate our past achievements, not to lament the closure of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary. It is time to look to the future and guided by the Holy Spirit to renew the mission of the Orchard Lake Schools.
I believe SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary has fulfilled its mission of priestly formation and lay ecclesial ministry formation. The Church in the United States and in Poland has significantly changed since 1885 and continues to evolve. The Fathers of Vatican Council II encouraged us in the ‘60s “. . . to read the signs of the times.” It is time for the Orchard Lake Schools to move on into an uncharted future and to continue serving the Church of Detroit by providing needed formation and education of young men and women in the Catholic tradition animated by the Spirit for service to others at St. Mary’s Preparatory.

I believe, as you correctly noted in your letter, the Catholic and Polish identity of the Orchard Lake Schools is essential to its mission. I applaud the Regents for establishing the Polish Institute of Culture and Research (formerly, the Polish Mission) and for renovating the Galeria, restoring the invaluable art and rich archival collection, sponsoring conferences and events, and building a true Polonia Research Center. The Regents may wish to explore the “Polish Heritage Center” at Panna Maria, Texas as a model for Orchard Lake. The Heritage Center, located on FM 81 in Panna Maria, Texas, opened in 2018, includes 16,000 square feet, and it is a destination for families, educational groups, scholars, researchers, and tourists. Their website is You also referred to the “St. John Paul II Liturgical Center” (formerly, Polish American Liturgical Center) but did not elaborate. I wonder if the Polish Missalette, “Pan z Wami,” is still being published by the Orchard Lake Schools? Or, if indeed it is needed in Polish parishes today?

I believe the Orchard Lake Schools possess a rich collection of books and archival material which partially tells the Polish immigrant and refugee story in the Catholic Church and the larger United States of America. This story is rich and valuable for future generations to explore their roots in Poland and in America.

In conclusion, I concur with you that we are living in contentious and polarized times. Your letter certainly is a step in the right direction to “create and continue to nurture an intelligent debate by presenting the facts.” Once again, thank you, “Bog zaplac! (May God reward your generosity!) May I suggest the Archdiocesan Priests Conference for Polish Affairs as an organization that may wish to be instrumental in initiating this much needed open dialogue with leaders of Detroit Polonia regarding the Orchard Lake Schools. I also believe more alumni might benefit from reading your letter to Polonia by getting the facts straight.

With best wishes and prayers for you, Steve, and the Board of Regents of the Orchard
Lake Schools, I remain,
Sincerely in Christ Jesus,

Rev. Msgr. Francis B. Koper
St. Mary’s Prep, ’63 & St. Mary’s College, ‘67
Pastor, Our Lady of Hope Parish
Clare, MI 48617