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Building on the Past to Keep Our Foundation Solid for the Future

Grand Masters Address May 2023

Brethren all, Good Afternoon.
I cannot begin to express the honor and pride that I feel as I now stand before you as your Grand Master.  I thank you all for helping me get here.  It is extremely important for me to first recognize some very important and influential people that have given me opportunities and guided me as I made my way to this most honorable position. I first want to recognize my mother and my father.  It was my mother, who passed away last November that suggested that I ask my father how to become a Freemason.  I knew nothing about our craft at the time and no idea how to become a part of it.  Had it not been for her influencing me to talk to my father about the craft, I would not be standing here today.  As for my father, many of you knew him only through our craft and I only knew him as my dad. I am sure that it was our craft that made him such a great dad.  As soon as I asked him about the craft, I learned so much more about him.  And now, I trust that he is looking down on me and is happy with what I have so far accomplished.

It is also important for me to recognize and thank Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Ray Hassell, Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Bob Allen, and Right Worshipful Rick Baccus not only for the honor bestowed upon me by installing me, but for providing me with so many opportunities as I made my way through.  I was so fortunate in my early years to be around people like M∴W∴ PGM Ray, M∴W∴ PGM Bob Allen, and R∴W∴Bill McPherson.  I knew that there was something special about them but as time has gone by, I now appreciate their great council more and want to thank them for the many stories and pieces of advice that they shared with me.  When we used to travel together, I just sat and listened.  It’s amazing what you can learn if you just listen.

Lastly, it is important for me to recognize and thank the newly installed R∴W∴Grand Marshall Brother Michael R. Barbera. R∴W∴ Mike has been with me since the start of our journey and I have enjoyed all of the events, conversations, and good council that he has provided and participated in with me.  R∴W∴ Mike lives in Worcester MA and has never complained, at least to me, about the long drive he has to make to be at all of the events we went to over the past eight years.  In fact, he has always arrived with a smile on his face and with a great attitude.  He has an infectious laugh and I’m sure that everyone will agree that he has done a good job with his Grand Master of Ceremonies duties.  Thanks Mike!
The gavel that was presented to me as I was being installed has a history to it that M∴W∴Ray alluded to. This gavel is the gavel that was presented to and used by my Grandfather W∴Russell J Grant Sr. as he was installed Master of St. Andrews Lodge No. 39 in 1947. It was again presented to and used by my father R∴W∴Russell J. Grant Jr as he was installed Master of St. Andrews Lodge No. 39 in 1958 and again in 1985. I had the honor of using this same gavel when I was Master of St. Andrews Lodge No. 39 in 2009 and again in 2010. My son had the honor of using this gavel when he was Master of St. Andrews Lodge No. 39 in 2016 and again in 2017. I used this gavel as DDGM for 5 years and it has installed 27 Masters of lodges throughout this jurisdiction, and I am hoping that it will hold together as I use it in my travels another 100 times this coming year. When my year is over, this gavel will have served this Grand Jurisdiction well.

If you have already received a copy of the Grand Lodge Blue Book, I encourage you to look inside the cover and read it.  I have quoted a line from the 4th degree in Scottish Rite which highlights Hiram the Builder.  It says, “The temple was started with a solid foundation.  No edifice can endure without that.”  Below that, I went on to say: “What have you done, what are you doing, what will you do to ensure that the foundation remains solid and endures this test of time?” It is important to always take a look at the foundation.  Cracks can develop over time and it is imperative to repair them so that the building remains strong.  I am looking forward to helping repair our foundation and making it strong for our future.

Three years ago the Grand Council embarked on a project that has taken a few years to complete.  M∴W∴PGM Gary Kaufman started the project, M∴W∴PGM Bob Ellston continued the project, and M∴W∴PGM Bob Palazzo finished the now living document which is referred to as our Five Year Plan.  It has been distributed in our jurisdiction and PGM Palazzo began to follow the plan in his year by putting a tremendous amount of time and effort into getting our name back out into the public.  PGMs Palazzo, Ellston, and Kaufman, thank you for your effort with the development of this plan.

It is now my turn to support the plan by working with the lodges, the Leadership Team and the Masonic Education group to see that we are providing the best opportunities for our brothers and potential brothers by shoring up our foundation and providing consistency among the lodges and Education Teams in this jurisdiction.  At the same time, I will be continuing to get our name out in the communities by working with the lodges to see that we are all providing community services.  We will also be working to be proficient with our degree work and providing our future Masons with the foundation that they will be proud of.  I am calling on our R∴W∴Grand Lecturer, Assistant Grand Lecturers, and the Lodge Ritual Advisors to help with this.  All of this will happen by everyone working together.  No lodge gets a pass on this.  I look forward to working hard for you and with you to provide you with what you need to get this done.  

During my year as Deputy Grand Master and before, I wrote several articles in the RI Freemason about project planning.  While the articles were greatly abbreviated to give an outline on how to create, plan, and execute a project, I did spend a little more time explaining the importance of execution.  We have spent a great deal of time creating, detailing, and planning things over the years.  I’m sure that there have been a lot of Cigar and Bourbon (or Scotch if you must) get-togethers that yielded a lot of great ideas and potential plans.  But they never materialized because there was no vehicle or pathway for execution.  Without execution, they are just words in the wind.  After all these years of training, I have learned many valuable lessons but none more important than learning to love the work and making things happen.  Say what you are going to do and do what you are saying.   We as Masons know that the wages we receive come from the efforts we put into our work.  It’s now time to get to work and enjoy our wages.

Brethren, I am here to work hard for you and with you.  For you that know me well, you know that I am not afraid to get my hands dirty to help.  Let’s work in the quarries together to strengthen the foundation that was built by our forefathers by using modern as well as the ancient tools and employing new craftsmen with guidance from those that worked hard before us.  Together, we can achieve remarkable things and at the same time be proud of the work we will accomplish.  “What will you do to ensure that the foundation remains strong and endures the test of time?”

Douglas J. Grant, Grand Master