What is so exceptional about Freemasonry that it makes life so much more radiant and meaningful? Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Greatness is not where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor." Yes, you, you and you together we can make a difference. Brethren, no man stands alone if we communicate and Share the Light. It is our duty to keep that light strong and focused, and influence others to follow that same light in their daily lives. I am committed to equipping you with the necessary tools and leading each of you, and your lodge, on a journey to excellence.
So, what does it mean to 'Share the Light?' It means communicating our Masonic values _ not only through our words, but also through our actions. It means leading a moral, spiritual and productive life that inspires others to want to be better. It means calling a Brother to offer a ride to a lodge meeting, sending a card to a new member congratulating him on his achievement, visiting a resident at one of our Masonic Homes, or offering help to a brother in need. It means increasing Masonic awareness by proudly wearing your pin, placing a Masonic license plate on your car, or using a Grand Lodge credit card for your purchases. It means bringing family and friends to visit the Masonic Temple. This is my vision for the promise of Pennsylvania Freemasonry: a brotherhood of dedicated, charitable men whose light burns so brightly that others can't help but notice.
In February, you will receive a gift from me an attractive auto emblem, which reads, "Pennsylvania Freemasons-Sharing the Light". I encourage you to place it on your car, on your wife's car, or on your children's car so fellow Brethren will recognize your vehicle as being driven by a member of our Masonic family. 135,000 emblems on cars across the Commonwealth will start people talking about this great Fraternity and the light it shines through our example, our integrity, our philanthropy. And, isn't it comforting to know, that down whichever path life may lead you, chances are you will find a friend traveling beside you?
I encourage each of you to work hard to identify worthy candidates and make them part of your Masonic Family. Just as importantly, make sure that your inner light does not fade. Recommit yourself to your lodge and to your Brethren _ attend meetings more often, experience the degree work again, and get involved to make a difference in expanding and enhancing our Craft.
On October 2, 2004, I invite you to take part in what I expect to be a powerful, exciting day for Pennsylvania Freemasonry. On that one day, degrees will be held in 13 different cities around our Commonwealth: 10,000 candidates, 30,000 Brethren participating.
Qualifying men will be able to receive degrees from the first to the 32nd and ending the day as a Shrine Mason, if they so choose. This is a revolutionary way of bringing new men, new ideas and new leaders into our lodges. If we want to strengthen our fraternity in today's world, we need to think and act in modern times. We will maintain the integrity of our rituals, while allowing more good men the opportunity to grow in Freemasonry. What a spectacular event this will be! Instilled with Masonic virtue and knowledge, these new Brethren will help to pave the way for the future of the Craft.
I will also advocate the use of technology to facilitate and expedite the petition process. We have implemented a toll-free petition hotline, 1-800-990-1935, which will enable you to process a petition over the phone. Candidates can also e-mail their petition to the secretary of their desired lodge, who will follow through with the traditional balloting process. Should an interested candidate ask you for more information, I encourage you to give him the choice of the toll-free hotline or the online petition method.
These approaches to membership enrichment are progressive they are new and exciting ways to modernize our traditions. We are not devaluing our great Fraternity, but making membership more achievable for deserving men who have family, faith, work and volunteer responsibilities to juggle. As our membership strengthens, so does our future. Share the Light, my Brethren, and be a beacon unto others to the strength of the Craft!
As Masons, we are called to exemplify goodwill. We each have a personal responsibility for the success of our Masonic Charities. When I speak of our Masonic Charities, I am referring to the Masonic Library and Museum which includes the Masonic Temple. The Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for Children, the Pennsylvania Youth Foundation, and the Masonic Homes, which we will come to know as the Masonic Villages beginning in 2004. Brethren, you have always been generous in the past. Your support is needed now more than ever to provide for the ongoing needs of our philanthropic programs and services. We have launched a capital campaign to provide for the operational costs that allow our Masonic Charities to fulfill their essential missions', which in turn benefit our Brethren, our families, our youth, and society. The Charities ability to adapt successfully to the needs of our Family of Freemasonry for today and tomorrow depends upon your benevolence.
It is our duty to maintain our magnificent and inspiring Masonic Temple an architectural and historical landmark of significance not only to Pennsylvania Freemasons, but to the world. Its majestic walls embrace the precious treasures of Masonic heritage which we must preserve for perpetuity.
The Pennsylvania Youth Foundation and The Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for Children are passing our values to succeeding generations by providing children with the education, tools, support and moral instruction to address the many challenges they encounter in today's world. This year, The Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for Children will need volunteers to launch the CHIP program, a child identification program that provides parents and guardians with a tool they can use to help protect their children. Our goal is to ID 50,000 children in the first year at elementary schools and shopping malls. I urge you to call Grand Lodge or your District Deputy for details on how you can help ensure the safety of our children.
As I mentioned previously, our Masonic Homes will become known as the Masonic Villages, a name that more accurately describes the breadth of services provided in Elizabethtown, Sewickley and Warminster. With the addition of the Lafayette Hill community, the Masonic Villages will be complete in serving members and their families throughout Pennsylvania. Our Masonic Villages are vibrant communities with so much to offer the young and the young at heart.
Every day, our Masonic Charities share the light in the lives of thousands of people. How brightly does YOUR light shine?
Brethren: If we believe, we can succeed. We will build on the foundation of the past, crafting a lasting legacy to be enjoyed by future generations. Freemasonry illuminates the darkest corners of the earth with the benevolence of the Craft through a blessing of the Great Architect of the Universe.
If we are united and everyone shares a little light, Freemasonry will continue to beam as the greatest fraternity in the world. Shine brightly, my brethren - our journey to excellence begins with YOU!