Blizzards and Warm Welcomes in Orchard Lake

It was over 400 kilometres to Orchard Lake, Michigan, and it was necessary to cross the Canadian/American border again. It was a night drive and it wasn’t easy. Heavy snowfall caused close to white out conditions.  At times like these both Fr. Peter West and Chris Morales realized the power of the prayers of the faithful and the Black Madonna. It seems She wanted to visit the “Polish” SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Lake Orchard, Michigan, particularly on the feast of Anunciation and the Day of the Holiness of Life, because there was no trouble during the journey although everybody was tired.

It wasn’t until after midnight that we arrived at the seminary which was founded in 1875 to prepare Polish seminarians to care for Polish immigrants to the USA and Canada.

Despite the late hour, the rector, Monsignor Thomas Mahalski, a security guard and three Polish seminarians were there to greet Our Lady and take the icon into the seminary chapel right away. In the morning, the seminarians venerated the icon and the icon was available all day and all night.  The solemn Holy Mass was presided over by fr Robert Marczewski, the seminarians` spiritual father. We were both exhausted from the night before and decided to sleep late.  Father West offered Mass later in the day after the rosary.  After Vespers, a few seminarians and priests pledged the Spiritual Adoption of a Conceived Child before the Rector. It means they spiritually adopted for nine months an unborn babe who is in danger of abortion. The child`s name is known only to God.

The visit of Our Lady of Częstochowa was an opportunity for the Poles from the area to gather at the feet of the Mother. On the second day the Holy Mass was attended by the students from St. Mary`s Preparatory School. This is a high school for boys founded at the same time as the seminary. Blessed John Paul II as a cardinal visited Orchard Lake twice. When he became Pope he said that if the schools in Orchard Lake did not exist we would have to set them up. We stayed in rooms adjacent to where the Pope stayed on two occasions.  During one of his visits, he donated an icon of the Black Madonna which is always present here and loved and venerated.  After the evening rosary, Fr. West preached from the same podium where the Pope preached about how the icon is a reminder of the reality of the Incarnation, which took place at the Annunciation when the Blessed Virgin said yes to the message of God delivered through the Archangel Gabriel. Later, Msgr. Mahalski gave us the opportunity to venerate a first class relic of Bl. Pope John Paul II ­ a drop of his blood. 

The last time the vehicle was taken for repairs the mechanic warned that the tread on the tires was getting low and should be changed soon. We took the vehicle to a local automotive center where we were able to buy tires that had only recently fallen to an especially low rate ­ a special gift to us from the Black Madonna on the Solemnity of the Annunciation! The mechanic called it “Divine intervention.”

Fr. West shows us the special connection between Marian devotions of Our Lady of Czestochowa and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Definitely a foreshadowing of the icon’s future travels through Latin America starting with Mexico.

The next morning Mass was celebrated at the main chapel of the seminary campus. In attendance were 500 boys from St. Mary's High School which is supported by the seminary.  A transitional deacon who is also a seminarian gave a prepared homily about the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Chris Morales and
Fr. Peter West
Human Life International

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