State Master Councilor is Center of Focus When DeMolay Leadership Confers Degree
The focus was on the 21-year-old State Master Councilor of the Order of DeMolay in Pennsylvania, Brother Keith A. Bortz, Jr., when the Master Mason's Degree was conferred during an extra meeting of Union Lodge No. 479, Birdsboro, on Saturday, Mar. 23.
R.W. Grand Master Marvin A. Cunningham, Sr., was present. So was R.W. Past Grand Master Samuel C. Williamson, the former Executive Officer of Pennsylvania DeMolay, who came across the state to make a presentation. Thomas R. Labagh, P.M., Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682, Elizabethtown, the Executive Officer of Pennsylvania DeMolay, and Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Foundation, conferred the degree supported by a team made up of members of the State DeMolay Leadership, including Keith's father and grandfather. The Lodge room was nearly filled by the State Master Councilor's well-wishers, many of them DeMolay Advisors and friends from the 7th Masonic District, to welcome Keith on his final step into the Craft.
Following the conferral, Keith said, "The most appealing part of Freemasonry is the brotherhood. Meeting people who become friends for life--that is a great feeling! Being a DeMolay has truly made me a better person. I hope that Freemasonry will continue to mold this person that I have become, and make me a better citizen of my community."
Grand Master Cunningham said that Keith demonstrates perfectly why the recent decision was issued to allow lodges to receive petitions from 18-year-olds. "Here is a young man who was ready to be made a Mason at an earlier age. Without his DeMolay State Officer activity, he might have been distracted from continuing his fraternal journey. But not every DeMolay can be a State Master Councilor. Indeed, not every young man can be a DeMolay. The decision makes it possible for young adults to seek membership in our Craft when they are ready for it.
"The monuments we build as speculative Masons are not of stone or steel, but rather, the edifices of character in ourselves and in those we care for. There can be no more profound Masonic calling than training our youth as apprentices in Masonic virtue."
Bro. Labagh has made it a priority to participate in conferring degrees on Senior DeMolays whenever possible and to confer degrees on former DeMolay State Officers when permitted by the lodges they petition. He said, "I have never forgotten the thrill of being greeted by a degree team of DeMolay leaders when I received my Masonic degrees many years ago. While this is a great day for the Order of DeMolay in Pennsylvania to show off its best and brightest to the leadership of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and to the brethren of the Fraternity, the focus of the day is on one person only. We are here to pay tribute to a young man whom we all greatly admire. We all feel privileged to be permitted to confer the degree on Bro. Keith A. Bortz, Jr."
The degree team included Allen D. Moyer, P.M., Vaux Lodge 406, and Legal Counsel, Pennsylvania DeMolay, as Senior Warden; Rick S. Freedman, P.M., Corinthian-Williamson Lodge 368, Deputy Executive Officer, as Junior Warden; Philip H. Batula, Senior Warden of Lodge No. 9, and Director of Competitions, as Senior Deacon; Randy C. Knapp, Director of Convention, as Junior Deacon; Brent D. Richards, P.S.M.C., and P.Y.F. Administrative Assistant, as Senior Master of Ceremonies; Lee L. Cram, Jr., P.M.C., W.M. of Lodge No. 9, and Deputy Executive Officer, as Junior Master of Ceremonies; Raymond W. Gottschall, III, P.M., Reading Lodge No. 549, Director of Advisor Training and Deputy Executive Officer; Louis E. Grow, P.S.M.C., Director of State Officer Program, as Chaplain; John L. Winkelman, P.M., Chandler Lodge No. 227, and Active Member for DeMolay International, as Secretary; Kenneth L. Bortz, grandfather of Keith, in his usual role as Treasurer; Keith A. Bortz, Sr., father, Chapter Advisor for Reading DeMolay, as Guide; James A. Ray, P.M., Hiram Lodge No. 81, Director of Ritual, gave the Charge; and Samuel C. Williamson, R.W.P.G.M., and Past Executive Officer for Pennsylvania DeMolay, presented the DeMolay/Masonic lapel pin.
Before the evening extra meeting of Union Lodge, more than 75 Masons enjoyed fraternal fellowship and a dinner served by eight members of the Reading DeMolay Chapter.
Accompanied by R.W. Grand Master Marvin A. Cunningham, Sr. (2nd from right), Samuel C. Williamson, R.W.P.G.M. (3rd from right) presents Bro. Keith A. Bortz, Jr., (3rd from left) with a DeMolay/Masonic lapel pin similar to the one pictured above. Also pictured are: At left, Kenneth L. Bortz, Keith's grandfather, and Keith A. Bortz, Sr., his father. At right is Thomas R. Labagh, Executive Officer of Pennsylvania DeMolay.
DeMolay Makes Good Men - Most Make Good Masons