By 1967, a group of OLS leaders and friends visited Poland asking Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński
if he would visit the vast Polish American community in North America. Wyszyński, who had lead a nine-year
Novena preparing Poles around the world for the 1966 celebration of 1,000 years of Polish Christianity, feared the
communists wouldn’t let him return to Poland if he left. He suggested a substitute, a new young cardinal named
Karol Wojtyla, who, as fate would have it, had relatives in an important city close to Orchard Lake – Hamtramck,
Wojtyla accepted the invitation and Orchard Lake organized his 1969 journey to visit the most important
communities in North American Polonia. Before coming to Orchard Lake, Wojtyla visited the grave of Father
Dabrowski and spoke to Polish Americans in Hamtramck, where he urged the Poles and Polish Americans to
“Come to Orchard Lake.”
During his 1969 and 1976 visits to Orchard Lake, Wojtyla began a decades-long relationship with
our campus. He and the two Polish priests who joined him, Fathers Franciszek Macharski and Stanisław Dziwisz,
were named honorary alumni of Orchard Lake during that first visit. Macharski would succeedWojtyla as Krakow’s
Cardinal from 1979-2005 and Dziwisz would become Cardinal from 2005 to the present.
In 1978, Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II, serving until his death in 2005. He called Orchard Lake
“the Heart of Polonia,” and during his first visit said the campus reminded him of his home territory of Krakow.
In June 2016, 50 years after the Millennial celebrations that brought the Polish motherland and North
American Polonia closer together, the Orchard Lake Shrine Chapel where a 49-year-old Karol Wojtyla celebrated
Mass, was dedicated as the Archdiocesan Shrine to St. John Paul II. Faithful from around the world can now come
here to venerate the great saint’s relic.
In July and August 2016, St. John Paul II was a patron saint of World Youth Day, which drew more than
two million young people from 187 nations, including faculty, students and staff from Orchard Lake. Cardinal
Macharski, who had joined St. John Paul II during his 1969 visit, died shortly after the completion of World Youth
Day while the other priest who joined JPII here, Cardinal Dziwisz, oversaw the great gathering.
Our Mission and Mark.
Just as Father Dabrowski found a niche in the 19th century and just as St. John Paul II
told us in the 20th century, we each have a unique mission. Pope Francis, paying homage to his predecessor, urged
Catholics to “leave a mark . . . Today’s world demands that you be a protagonist of history because life is always
beautiful when we choose to live it fully, when we choose to leave a mark. History today calls us to defend our
dignity and not to let others decide our future.’’
chard Lake Family