Greetings to all My Brothers and Masonic Family,
It is hard to believe that my term as your Grand Master is more than half way over. I can compare it to a snowball since this is the season for it. On top of the hill when a snowball starts it is small and as it rolls it only covers a small distance, but as it picks up more snow and gets bigger it picks up more speed, more snow more speed, then before you know it -- May and the Grand Lodge Annual will be here, however the Grand Marshal and I are not yet done, we still have many things to do, places to go and Masons to see.
Three Grand Master’s Visitations are now complete with the last one in the Northern District at Morning Star Lodge No. 13, again it was very well attended by Northern District Officers, Grand Lodge officers and brothers from around the state as well as our fellow brothers from Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, MA. The program that evening was about internet security and was most informative. One month later I was invited back to Morning Star Lodge to present a Grand Lodge Charities donation check to the Woonsocket Milk Fund, included were donations from Pawtucket Royal Arch Chapter, Holy Sepulcher Commandery, Morning Star and Lafayette Lodges. A total of $5,850 was given to Barry Mechanic, Chairman of the Milk Fund.
In the December-January issue of the RI Freemason there were many great articles as always, but I would like to draw your attention to two in particular. On page 6 “Wisdom from the Past” was a reprint of an article written by M∴W∴Robert J. Allen, PGM in 2002 on balloting. It is just as appropriate today as it was 13 years ago. Several times this year we have witnessed balloting with personal agendas instead of for the good of the Craft. Voting for elected officers at a lodge annual also falls into this same category. I’m sure if we did a better job of mentoring the younger Masons that we bring into our lodges as well as the officers we appoint in line to progress to the East, that most of these situations which we are seeing now would never come to fruition. The second article is on page 7, “Reading Masons and Masons Who Do Not Read”. If by chance you did not read both of these articles please locate your last RI Freemason read them, please.
The week between Christmas and the New Year is usually a time of relaxation with family, a time to reflect on the year past and to anticipate what the new year will bring, but not so in Masonry. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have their Grand Lodge annuals at the same time during that week. Having been to Massachusetts the last two years, I asked R∴W∴Deputy Grand Master Steven McGuire to attend, so that Lynn and I could go to Pennsylvania. We had a wonderful time there from being picked up at the airport in Pittsburgh to meeting old friend and making new ones. I did hear a very interesting story while I was there. I’m sure some of you know that Benjamin Franklin invented the street light among other things. He made it with four individual panels so if one became broken it would be easier to repair. He presented a plan to the town elders to put street lights on every corner in town to make it easier and safer to get around at night. The plan was rejected by the elders but Brother Franklin placed a street light in front of his own house. The neighbors were so impressed they soon purchased street lights for their own homes. It wasn’t long after that the elders changed their minds and street lights appeared on every corner in Philadelphia.
Spreading light one corner at a time, is kind of like spreading Masonry one man at a time, however, just his words were not enough. I’m sure if we all did a better job of thinking, acting walking, and talking as Masons that our goal of selling Masonry to potential members would easier. It also would become more natural and make it easier to talk about and to express our own feelings instead of reacting to what we’ve been told or what you have heard other brothers say.
I must say that we have taken pretty good care of our Military Veterans this past year. With the assistance of R∴W∴Russell Kawa, the newly appointed MSA Representative, we distributed gifts to all veterans at the Veteran’s Home in Bristol, with the help of the Grand Lodge Charity Committee, Grand Lodge officers, members of Overseas Lodge and other brothers from around the State. About a week before Christmas a smaller group of Masons passed out blankets and hats (with a flag embroidered on it) to all the patients at the VA Hospital who will probably not be home for the Holidays.
The Grand Lodge Charities Committee authorized the purchase of a new golf cart to replace the one used at the VA Hospital to transport veterans to and from their cars during appointments at the hospital. The one currently in use is old and in need of many repairs and just keeps breaking down. The VA Hospital was made requests to several organizations for help to purchase a new one. We stepped up and purchased one to be delivered in early January. It will have a plaque stated: Donated by Masonic Grand Lodge Charities of Rhode Island. Make sure if you are at the VA Hospital to stop by and check out the golf cart and plaque and know that your brothers are responsible for it.
The weather has been mild so far, as I am writing this column but I’m sure that by the time you are reading this it will probably be a very different story. I will miss some of the winter as our Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean is January 17 through the 24th, where we’ll try to soak up the warm weather because the next trip is to Madison, Wisconsin in February. I’m sure that will be a shock to the system.
Wishing everyone a most Joyous, Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2016 together we can make this a Great Masonic Year so don’t be left out.
Raymond E. Hassell