From the Districts February 2017
Rroundup of reports from the Rhode Island Grand Lodge Districts.
R∴W∴Gary S. Kaufman, DDGM
As the Freemason is scheduled for delivery a month later than the actual writing of articles, it is difficult to write about things that have not happened yet. That is why I look back a little so I can tell everyone about certain events that happened previous to this writing. First, I must say that the Veteran’s Day celebration at the Veteran’s Cemetery was the best I have attended. We had so many brothers and family members. What a great honor to our veterans who have gone to the celestial lodge above. It is also a tribute to the veterans who are here as well. Later that day, I had the pleasure to install W∴Dale Euga and his Officers of Overseas Lodge for 2017. I was especially happy to welcome back W∴Fred Diel to his lodge for the ceremony. The installation was well attended and the banquet that evening was very tasty. Congratulations to the Officers of Overseas Lodge.
I was not able to attend the Town Hall Meeting held by the Grand Master. I heard that it was a success and there were some really good questions and answers. Brethren, the Grand Master is interested in having a second Town Hall Meeting and I urge you to attend. This is your opportunity to express your opinions and have your questions answered about Rhode Island Freemasonry. I will let you know when the next one is scheduled.
One of the highlights of December was the joint meeting of St. Johns No. 1 Providence and Ezekiel Bates Lodge of Attleboro, Massachusetts. The lodges met at Scottish Rite on November 21, 2016. The idea originated between the lodges because they meet on the same night and cannot visit each other. St. John’s opened before dinner. They received me and did their regular business. Worshipful Master DeLuca and the officers did a great job and the Massachusetts Masons in attendance got a good taste of our ritual. After dinner Ezekiel Bates Lodge opened and received their District Deputy and conducted business. Rhode Island Masons present saw some of the Massachusetts ritual presented by Worshipful Keith Gobin and his officers. Next year the meeting of the lodges will be at Ezekiel Bates Lodge. I spent some time speaking with my counterpart, R∴W∴Chris Lindsay. There are many things we share in common. However, our line is progressive and theirs is not.
On January 1, 2017, the Metro District was in attendance at Roger Wheeler State Beach for the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics.
The plunge is a “chilling” experience which I did NOT do. But I did sponsor a swimmer. This event, along with a chili cook-off that took place in December, was the Metro District Charity Event for this year.
A Little Education……
The Grand Hailing Sign Is back! For the new members, you probably do not know what we are talking about. But in the late 1990’s after some discussion, the Grand Master of the time eliminated the Sign during the closing. Supposedly, it was because the Sign was not specified in the code book. Since then, many brothers, who were used to doing the Sign at the closing, have been caught doing it, or at least the very beginning of the Sign. So now, we do not have to worry. The Sign is back in. I for one am very happy to have it back. I now won’t look funny at the closing of a lodge in due form.
EAST BAY DISTRICT
R∴W∴ Robert B. Ellston, DDGM
Winter Greetings from the East Bay,
Brethren, here we are in the “dead of winter” and yet things are really moving in the East Bay. The various Lodges are hard at work “making Masons” and fostering positive interaction within their respective communities, all this while continuing to hold interesting and informative Lodge meetings. A common theme among these lodges is that all have respective lines of officers with less than six weeks “in service”, with the exception of Washington No. 3 which has almost four months. Keith and I have put a “wrap” on the last of the East Bay District lodge annuals during the final week of January. Every one of these lodges is trying very hard to improve the “face of Freemasonry” within the district by their individual and collective efforts. Keep up the good work my Brothers.
February and March look to be a busy time with a number of visitations scheduled to occur. Our Most Worshipful Grand Master, Stephen T. McGuire will be having his Official Visitation to his “Mother Lodge”, Mt. Vernon No. 4 on February 2nd. He will then travel for his Official Visitation to the Central District and Manchester Lodge No.12 on March 10th and a short four days later, he’ll be at Franklin Lodge No. 20 on the evening of the 14th. The Collegivm Lvminosvm will host a special official Grand Master’s Visitation on March 28th.
Here in the East Bay, the District Deputy visitations will be first at St. Andrews Lodge No. 39 on February 9th and then at St. Alban’s Lodge No. 6 on March 8th. The visitation to St. Alban’s will also be the Officer Forum within the District. I’m sure that if you take the time to check your “Blue Book” or go on-line to the Grand Lodge web site, that you’ll find the other districts are just as busy with their respective visitations and regular meeting schedules. Remember Brethren, if you want to have Brothers come to your lodge and visit, you also need to travel to theirs. It’s a great opportunity to build personal and fraternal bonds of friendship.
Speaking of personal and fraternal bonds of friendship, on November 19, 2016, it was my privilege and pleasure along with several young DeMolays, brother Masons and the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Brother Steven T. McGuire to make an appearance at the Mt. St. Rita Health Centre in Cumberland to present Senior DeMolay and Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, Kenneth Jenks with his award for over 75 years of affiliation with the DeMolay Fraternity. M∴W∴Jenks was Grand Master in 1976 and as it happened, Worshipful Brother Willard Crossley, also a resident of the Health Centre, was able to join us for the ceremony. Worshipful Crossley was Master of Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 8 during 1976. Mt. Moriah Lodge was the original sponsor in the 1960’s of Wilbur Scott Chapter, Order of DeMolay of which I was a charter member and Past Master Councilor. It has been my good fortune to have known both of these friends and brothers for over 50 years. Each in his own way has been a mentor, guide and advisor to me as I have traveled my pathway thru life.
Over the Holidays, another friend and brother, “everybody’s Chaplain”, R∴W∴Brother Al Cameron, the Associate Grand Chaplain for the East Bay District spent some time in the hospital with a bout of pneumonia. Please, keep Brother Al in your prayers as he continues his recovery.
My Brothers, as a District Deputy I receive communications from a number of lodges every month. There are always messages from the Master and the Secretary, many of these tell of what has happened during the past month or what is planned for the current month at the lodge. Sometimes the messages contain thought-provoking, motivating and inspiring comments. If you will indulge me, I would like to convey excerpts from two messages that I recently received. The first comes from W∴Jim Haldeman, the Master of Hope Lodge No. 25, in it he speaks of the events of human genius which benefit all of humanity. “The purpose in all our lives is to make things happen for the good -- to inspire, to encourage, to create, to motivate -- to do things for the greater good of mankind. As Masons, we do so by dedicating our lives to make ourselves better, to demonstrate goodness among all others, and to display our ability to provide our usefulness to our community.” The Master of Washington Lodge No. 3, W∴Steve Curria also gave me reason to stop and ponder when he, in his message, proceeded to write, “finally at the ending of this year I take a look inward. Just a few short weeks ago, I stood and presented the Working Tools of a Master Mason to our newest Master Masons. This small part of ritual really got me thinking, have I been using the tools as well as I should? I would like to say yes, but I know I have failed along the line and for me at least,
therein lies the lesson. It’s not that you have used a tool incorrectly but it’s that you try again, ever straining for that perfect measurement. Is our ashler ever perfect? I would say no. We could work on the stone with our square all of our lives and it would never be perfect. It can only be the best we can make it through the pursuit of perfection.”
Brethren, I thank these two Masters for their reflection and insight and leave you with these thoughts for you to dwell upon. Am I as a man and a Mason doing all I can to properly use the tools which have been placed at my disposal? Am I inspiring, encouraging and motivating myself and those around me to pursue perfection and create a greater good for mankind?
May the Supreme Architect bless and keep you and yours. Remember those less fortunate and do as you are able to comfort and relieve their distresses.
R∴W∴ Robert A. Palazzo, DDGM
Fraternal Thoughts, “Brotherhood”
The Urban dictionary defines “Brotherhood” as a friendship unlike any other built out of respect, will always have each-others back. A fraternal definition explains it this way, “The bonding of men of various backgrounds, beliefs, places and eras in a singular set of life-directing commitments.
Whatever emphasis you place upon it, it appears to be a different concept for everyone. It is something that one must experience to fully grasp its meaning. As I moved along my fraternal journey it has become easier for me to define, it is not that vague concept that is spoken of as an Entered Apprentice.
It is that fraternal definition that allows all of us to share a brotherhood with men of past, present and future. It allows all of us to be a brother with someone who I may disagree with politically, religiously or otherwise. It is not solely based upon friendships or personalities but based upon that shared commitment to each other and the degree to which the commit was made and maintained.
A brotherhood can be strong, similar to the trade and labor unions we read about, or weak when we let our personal feelings or ambitions block our progress. A brother is a good brother if he follows the path that has been laid out and helps others to follow it as well. The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man?are foundational teachings of Freemasonry.
The brotherhood we have vowed to uphold has to be maintained constantly. If you choose to stop adhering to the commitments you have made, then you fall out of the brotherhood and is it not one of the basic reasons, the core value, why you choose to be a part of our fraternity. Have we allowed the vices of man to alter our beliefs and how we conduct ourselves within our fraternity? Do you carry a grudge brought on by another or harbor ill will handed down from anotheR∴ Or do you take the high road and judge others fairly based upon your own experiences. That, my brothers is a question only you can answer and that answer lies deep within us.
Brotherhood is not necessarily a friendship, albeit, it can create friendships. A brotherhood is more a revered privilege. I’m willing to bet that most all of us have a lot of friends but fewer fraternal brothers. A brotherhood is unique and it should be treated that way. We take oaths and obligations that are binding and of course you learned by now that on–one is going to cut your throat or bury you in the rough sands of the sea. It is a connection born on the day we spoke those words that made us fraternity men together.
In my travels, I have seen lodges demonstrate brotherhood in many ways. From making Thanksgiving dinners to delivering presents to the needy and most recently assist a deceased brother’s family. And though the actions taken were not directly made to a brother, it was the act of kindness to a brother. It is fair to say that brotherhood comes in many forms.
Which leads me to the reason why I wrote of this topic. It is because of all of you who through your concern for me made a personal effort to inquire about my family member who had taken ill recently. Many of my brothers came to me asking if everything was okay or if there was something they could do. Many kept prayers for a speedy recovery. And this is my way of reaching out to all of you, to thank you for being a brother with all your kind thoughts and words.
Finally, my brothers, why is brotherhood difficult to define, because as I said earlier it’s different to each of us, it is a moving target and if done correctly, it is extraordinary. And as long as we stay true to those oaths and assist each other stay true as well, brothers are what we’ll remain until our days are over.
On behalf of Brad and I, we hope you had a great New Year and remember to focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing the task but in doing it, especially with a brother.
R∴W∴Douglas J. Grant, DDGM
Greetings once again from the Central District. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is now a thing of the past and we are now dealing with the rigors of the winter season while we do our good work in Masonry. The lodges of the Central District are doing well with active work being done on candidates. I am sure, that all of the lodges are looking forward to the coming spring weather and the many great things that come with the better weather.
Winter is the time when we take advantage of the indoors and work our candidates through the different degrees. I have visited all the lodges in the Central District that have done degree work and I am very pleased to be able to compliment all of them on their performance. I am a strong believer that lodges that perform great work when initiating, passing, and raising candidates, will reap the benefits of their labor by not only retaining the new Masons but giving them an example to aspire to in their Masonic journey. It is very important that every candidate understand what they are going through when they are given their degrees. If the work is shoddy, they will believe that it is acceptable to cut corners or not put their best effort in. If the work is good, they will likely give their best effort when it comes their turn to participate.
Such was the way of our ancient brethren when they were building the great monuments and cathedrals of their times. The masters or overseers of the work, were responsible for the workers and the efforts that they gave to the completion of the buildings. In our modern times, things have not changed. The Masters, are still responsible for overseeing the work. While the workers are responsible for building the solid moral and spiritual foundations of our brothers, so that they will go forth into the complex world we live in and build stronger foundations in our communities for our families to live and grow in. Are we accomplishing that task? I believe we are.
For those that know me, you will often hear the same response when asking me how I am doing. I will mostly likely say that I “Couldn’t be better”. The reason for the response is that I believe that I couldn’t be better at that time and place and if I could, I would make it that way. I have this same outlook on most things. If I could make it better, I would. This is the same attitude that I try to project to my brothers in our Craft. While I believe that there is always room for improvement, we should access our efforts at the time and place that we are now and be able to say with confidence that “we couldn’t be better”.
In sum, it is our individual responsibility to be the best we can be for God, our family, our brothers in the Craft, our neighbors, and ourselves. It is our individual efforts towards achieving this never- ending goal that makes us different than most of society. Therefore, put your best effort into doing good work for your candidates, and help your brothers achieve their goals. It will be inevitable that our society will benefit from our efforts and you will be able to say with confidence that your lodge does good work because you, as an individual contributor to our beliefs, “Couldn’t be better”!
May the blessings of God rest upon us and all regular Masons. May brotherly love prevail and every moral and social virtue cement us.
R∴W∴ André H. Faria, Jr. DDGM
By the time you read this, 2016 is a fading memory and we are well into the New Year! Brandt has been busy covering several college bowl games for ESPN as well as some well-known National parades and was not able to join me for every visit. Nevertheless, the brothers of the District are so very kind and always asked for him and I certainly had such an enjoyable time traveling to the lodges during the holiday season and beyond.
Mt. Vernon Lodge No. 4 put on a festive gathering for their Holiday Party. As usual, W∴Eric Majewski oversaw a well-coordinated event that he and his officers put together. Everyone from the children to the ladies and guests felt the holiday spirit. What a treat to have our Most Worshipful Grand Master, Stephen T. McGuire and his Lady Maureen in attendance, in fact the First Lady of our Jurisdiction put together very lovely gifts for all the ladies. The food was fantastic and I was informed that the mint water served by Brothers; Andrew, Zach, and Tom refreshed thirsty palates! Now that deserves a round of applause! The singing of carols also put us instantly in the mood!
Charity Lodge, No. 23 had a wonderful night of Masonic poetry reading, thoughtfully read by one of its newest Master Masons. Many thanks to Brother Ralph for his thoughtful prose, it was enjoyed by all. During the December meeting we had a special treat, R∴W∴Charles L. Niles, Past Grand Marshal, celebrated his 92nd birthday! In a wonderful gesture, he personally gave a hand crafted PGM Jewel that he crafted with his own hands to Charity’s own R∴W∴John “Jack” Anderson, PGM. Thank you, Brother Niles for filling in as GMC that night as well. As is the case with all of the lodges in this District, Charity Lodge is in great hands under the direction of its Worshipful Master, Randy Joslin who also never disappoints with his great meals, which is often a team effort as well. They have a full plate of events planned for 2017 and we will be there as often as we are able.
Hope Lodge, No. 25 continues to impress with such a great presence in the community. We had the opportunity to hear about it firsthand from Mr. Joe Dziobek, the Executive Director of Welcome House of South County in Wakefield. Under the direction of its Worshipful Master James Haldeman, the lodge provides this transitional program for the homeless with much needed goods and supplies. In fact, the lodge has been sponsoring its support for individuals in the community who run into hard times and is considering an even more active involvement with this wonderful program. What an example for all of us, to put into action those moral duties we so often talk about. Hope Lodge incarnates many of our fraternity’s teachings by becoming living stones in our community. In this regard, it was also an honor to be present as W∴Louis Clark, current Secretary of the Lodge, was honored as one of Hope’s “living stones” for his many years of service to Hope. He too spoke eloquently about his time as a Freemason and is a wonderful example of the quality of men that Masonry produces in our Jurisdiction.
Franklin Lodge, No. 20 had its Annual Meeting in mid-January. What a great event! Many congratulations to outgoing Worshipful Master Eric Ross for a fantastic year of facilitating the many programs that the lodge sponsored and held. Certainly, one of the highlights was the featuring of the lodge in a RI PBS “Our Town” segment in Westerly. Both W∴Ross and Brother Brett Marggraff did a tremendous job representing Freemasonry in Rhode Island assisted so thoroughly by R∴W∴Jack Anderson of the Grand Lodge Public Relations Committee. As new Worshipful Master Ralph Brunson assumes the East, he has indicated that Franklin Lodge has many exciting programs in store for 2017. I look forward to being with you for some of these events as well.
We are well into 2017 and Brandt and I are looking forward to being with you as we have several visitations to go. These are always such wonderful events for us as we get to meet many of the wonderful men who make up our Grand Jurisdiction. Starting a new year reminds us all of the passage of time. In fact, we barely perceive its movement, seconds become minutes which become hours that turn into days and months, well you get the picture. For many the time that has already passed is filled with such cherished memories of good times while for some, the pain of loss is still felt, sometimes for years. What is important to always remember is that we cannot go back to the past and change what has happened. For weal or for woe it is behind us and we must accept that what happened is now history, we can no longer live there. The only “time” that we can truly live is in this present moment. We can certainly plan for the future and we all know that this is an essential duty, but we cannot live there yet. Knowing this, we can make every moment count. As humans, we have an affinity for labeling everything, especially when it comes to “time.” Forget the labels. Let go of a grudge, it is doing you no good! The weight of a past event may be preventing you from fully experiencing life and enjoying the gift of humanity that we have been given. Each one of us was loved into existence by the Great Architect of the Universe, imagine that, we existed in the thought of the Divine before we made an appearance on this planet. So, Live now! It has been my experience that speaking a kind word or performing a small gesture of charity always is rewarded tenfold. It’s not that difficult, it’s only in the present moment that you can experience the Presence of the Divine. Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to show your love for others, and don’t just drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day! May this chronological year that we call “2017” be filled with blessings for each of you and your loved ones. Don’t miss a moment, live every one of them!