|Volune LIII||January 2006||Number 1|
Our great fraternity originated from necessity. In the Middle Ages, when stonemasons and other craftsmen traveled throughout Europe from one construction site to the next, they began to form guilds and gather together in shelter houses. The knowledge and skills of the trade had to be passed from one operative mason to another, from the experienced to the inexperienced, with masters introducing new workers as apprentices and teaching their fellows to become masters of the craft. The square and compasses, the tools of the trade, became the symbol of their brotherhood, identifying their skills as bona fide masons. They were concerned for each other and were charitable to those in need. They took care of the elderly - their widows, orphans and destitute brethren.
They were Masons Helping Masons.
I believe it is time to revisit our past and learn from it; to remember from whence we came, and apply those same principles to our works of today and our goals for tomorrow. We each have been given abilities that we can use to strengthen our fraternal bonds individually, and Pennsylvania Freemasonry in its entirety.
Becoming a Mason is a privilege which comes with responsibilities - to conduct our lives in a moral and compassionate way and to treat one another with brotherly love and affection. We are the future of Freemasonry, and the strength of the fraternity rests with each and every one of us.
I have heard too many Brethren, as they receive their 50 Year Masonic Service Emblems, say that they wished they were more active in their lodge, had volunteered more time in their community or spent more time with their family. We must not let that happen to ourselves or to any of our Brethren.
Whether or not we maintain members is dependent upon what we make of our relationships and our willingness to go the extra mile for one another. I have commissioned a Retention Committee to focus our efforts on enhancing the value of membership and ensuring that we meet the needs of our Brethren. But neither the Grand Lodge, nor our Blue Lodges, can accomplish this without a grassroots effort on the part of our individual members. The success of this fraternity begins and ends with YOU! I believe that if we demonstrate to one another the many benefits of membership, our numbers will naturally increase; our existing members will remain and others will want to join so they, too, can experience how Freemasonry enriches a man's life.
One way to reach out to your fellow Brethren is through the new Online Business Directory on our Grand Lodge Web site. Every Pennsylvania Mason who is able to use the Internet will have the opportunity to post one listing of commercial services he provides, businesses he is connected with, or perhaps, personal hobbies he is willing to share. This convenient network will assist members to meet and share information about each other, and allow users to locate a Mason from whom he may wish to obtain services. There is an inherent sense of trust between members of the Masonic fraternity, and while this service does not guarantee a satisfactory business transaction, it provides a means for Brethren to locate another Brother who may be able to provide a needed service. The concept for this came to me when my daughter, Renee, needed some work done on her car while she was away at school in York, Pa. She called me, wondering where she should take her car so that she would be taken care of fairly. I called a Brother in the area, who referred me to another Brother who was a mechanic. This gave me peace of mind, and I directed Renee to his shop to get her car fixed. It is my hope that this same type of experience will multiply itself many times over to the benefit of all of our members and their families.
I will also initiate a Widows Program, as I believe that it is our responsibility to care for the wives of our Brethren who have gone before us. We already do this for the many residents of our Masonic Villages, and there are some lodges that maintain contact with the widows of their deceased brethren in exemplary fashion. To facilitate this new initiative for all of our Brethren to demonstrate their commitment, each lodge will be given a guide with ideas for activities and other means to include our widows and to honor them regularly.
We will also strengthen our commitment to our youth. For many years, the Pennsylvania Youth Foundation and The Pennsylvania Masonic Foundation for Children have operated separately, but with a similar mission. To preserve resources and increase efficiency, the Grand Lodge has decided to consolidate the efforts and responsibilities of these two charities. Renamed the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation, this entity will continue to provide the same services and functions that the two separate foundations previously offered. The Masonic CHIP program has produced tremendous results, and we will continue our efforts to ID and protect the children of Pennsylvania by reaching out into our communities in these and in other ways. We will also continue to support our Masonic youth groups by exploring creative ways to increase participation and provide valuable educational and fun programs.
Grand Lodge, itself, will be making a few changes to enhance the services we provide to members and the community. We have restructured our staff and volunteers to better serve our members, and will explore ways to invite community groups to enjoy and appreciate the magnificent Masonic treasure that is ours. Most importantly, we will persist with our ongoing vision to protect, preserve, maintain and support our Masonic Temple. This, brethren, is my passion, and I will strongly encourage donations toward the endowment of this historic monument for perpetuity.
Our bonds grow through shared experiences, and we have much to celebrate in 2006. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania will commemorate our 275th Anniversary this year! If you have not had the opportunity to tour our breathtaking Masonic Temple, there is no better time than right now! Bring your family and your friends to share in the wonder of our Masonic and American heritage.
Around the world, Masons and non-Masons alike are observing the 300th Anniversary of the birth of Bro. Ben Franklin and acknowledging his countless achievements and contributions to society. Grand Lodge will participate and sponsor some entertaining and educational events throughout the year, and I encourage you to participate with your family and/or your lodge.
As your Grand Master, my goal and mission is to exceed the expectations of our members, and to do it with fraternalism, professionalism, service and sincerity. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the next two years. Even more importantly, I anticipate working hand-in-hand with you to strengthen our fraternity, one member at a time. I am here to serve you.
Those of you who know me, know that my family comes first and foremost in my life. The Bible I have used to take my obligation will be passed on through my family, hopefully for generations to come, just as I hope my love for Freemasonry will continue to emanate through future generations. Our Masonic values are true and alive; it is our obligation to perpetuate them so that the spirit, pride and legacy of those original Freemasons lives on forever.
As I reflect upon my Masonic journey and the many reasons why Freemasonry has become so important to me, I see faces. Faces of those who have lent an ear, offered guidance and provided support - oftentimes without my having to ask for it. We each have a special and significant role to play and something we can contribute to our Family of Freemasonry. There are numerous ways to show our commitment to our fellow Brethren, simply by extending a helping hand or offering a shoulder to lean on. These are the personal things that remain significant in one's life. Going out of one's way to help another Brother should not be considered a hardship, but a privilege.
After all, we are a brotherhood of men under the fatherhood of God.
We are Masons Helping Masons.
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Ronald A. Aungst, Sr.
Enjoying the 2004 CHIP Gala at the Masonic Temple with sons Ron Jr. and Ryan and Bro. William Kingsbury
Norma's installation as Worthy Royal Matron
Presenting R.W.P.G.M. Robert L. Dluge Jr.'s medallion to the Worshipful Master of Pacific Rim Lodge in Vladivostok, Russia
Enjoying the company of the late inspirational Judge and Bro. Charles F. Greevy, Active Emeritus Member of the Supreme Council, 33º, former Deputy for PA and recipient of the PA Franklin Medal
|Table of Contents | Index of Issues | Home|