|Volume LVII||August 2010||Number 3|
Celebrating a Century of Service
Throughout the last 100 years, the dedication of many hands and hearts have formed the Masonic Village as the "highest development of our fraternity and philanthropy" (Annual Report of the Committee on Masonic Homes, 1909), creating an enduring Mission of Love. In honor of a Century of Service, Masonic Village hosted several special events throughout the months of May and June leading up to the official 100th anniversary on June 25.
On May 25, 1910, more than 1,500 people gathered for Masonic Village at Elizabethtown's flag raising ceremony - the organization's first public event. Exactly 100 years later, Masonic Village residents and staff, and Elizabethtown community members gathered in the Veterans Grove at 7 p.m. on May 25, 2010, for a flag raising ceremony to celebrate the Masonic Village's history and anticipate its second century of service. For those unable to attend the evening event, earlier in the day, a flag which flew above our nation's Capitol in Washington, D.C., and was donated by Congressman Joseph R. Pitts at the request of resident Providence Eshelman, was raised in front of residents and staff in the Masonic Health Care Center's Roosevelt Courtyard.
After the Masonic Village Men's Chorus performed, Elizabethtown Mayor and Bro. Chuck Mummert sang the national anthem and proclaimed May 25, 2010, as Masonic Village Day in Elizabethtown, Pa. To represent the countless people who have helped to ensure the Masonic Village's future, a multitude of staff, residents and community members helped raise the flag. The evening ceremony featured a flag which flew over the State Capitol on May 6, 2010, and was donated by Bro. David Hickernell, State Representative for the 98th Legislative District.
As part of the dedication, Bro. Jeffrey W. Coy, R.W. Grand Treasurer and Chairman of the Committee on Masonic Homes, shared the following:
"Pennsylvania Masons built the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown to counter the oppression of poverty, sickness, age and abuse that threaten the welfare and quality of life all people - young and old - need and deserve. That steadfast commitment has endured for 100 years, and today, leads us to be a Center of Excellence, motivates us to focus on the individual and drives us to provide the highest quality care and services ... Through the charity of Freemasons and friends who share our values, may our fellowship prompt us to celebrate the great heritage and posterity that has been handed down to us by the founders and builders of this great country."
The weekend of June 25-27 featured festive celebrations for all members of the Masonic family. On Friday, June 25, at 2 p.m., professional opera singer and Elizabethtown native Amy Yovanovich performed a special concert in the Masonic Health Care Center. At 6 p.m., residents, employees and their families gathered in the Formal Gardens for refreshments, some "clowning around" with Zembo Clowns and a concert by the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus. The community was invited to enjoy a magnificent fireworks display later that evening. Residents from the retirement living area of campus hosted the activities in appreciation for staff and their families, and their daily efforts to care for residents and the village. With funds from the voluntary resident association dues and proceeds from the sale of Masonic Village hats and shirts, residents raised $10,000 for the employee appreciation fund over the past three to four years.
"We appreciate how staff go out of their way to make our lives here so good. It's a small way for us to give something extra," Bro. Wils Kile, Fritz Lodge No. 308, Conshohocken, president of the Retirement Living Resident Association, said.
On Saturday, June 26, the June Quarterly Communication was held in the campus' Deike Auditorium. Later that afternoon, the Grand Lodge Hall, built from 1911 to 1913, was rededicated in memory of Charles Scott Roberts, son of Joanne M. and Bro. David G. Roberts, Chester Lodge No. 236. The following is an excerpt from the dedication address by Bro. Thomas K. Sturgeon, R.W. Grand Master:
"The Grand Lodge Hall is more than stone, an office or even a home. It is a symbol of Pennsylvania Freemasonry's wildest dreams, lofty goals and hopes for the future. Today, we recognize that where we've come from is just as important as where we're heading. As the Committee on Masonic Homes reported in 1985: 'We continue to marvel at the wisdom and foresight of those Pennsylvania Masons who stood on their lands in the early 1900s and planned our Masonic Homes essentially as it exists today. We are ever mindful of their Masonic legacy to us and are guided in all that we do to care and nurture this sacred trust that it may long endure for Pennsylvania Masons and their families.'"
Also on Saturday, at 7 p.m., a Centennial Banquet was held for residents, staff, donors, Committee on Masonic Homes leadership, members of Masonic organizations from across the state, and friends and family to celebrate the milestone. The Central Pennsylvania Symphony played throughout dinner. Bro. Norm Crosby, Ionic Composite Lodge No. 520, Los Angeles, Calif., one of America's favorite funny men, ended the night with a comedic twist.
The following is an excerpt from remarks made at the event by R.W. Grand Master Sturgeon:
"Yesterday marked the centennial for our Masonic Village here in Elizabethtown, commemorating exactly 100 years since the first resident, Bro. William M. Geesaman, age 62, of Cumberland Valley Lodge No. 315, Shippensburg, moved into the Guest Home.
"In 1912, the Committee on Masonic Homes proudly stated: 'Our work is permanent, and we must lay its foundations deep enough and broad enough for all time. Our ideals are high and it is incumbent upon us to build up to them.' This is exactly what our forefathers, the visionaries who dreamed, planned and built this community with their hands and their hearts, not only hoped, but expected, of those of us who celebrate here today.
"Over the past century and here among us today, are members of our Masonic family who have served our nation proudly and preserved our freedom so that great institutions such as this one, could be built to reach out and serve our brothers and sisters who have a need.
"For it is only in free countries such as our blessed United States of America, that Freemasonry can exist. And it is only through Freemasonry that our Masonic Villages have grown, like the grand old trees in the grove representing our nation's heroes, to do God's work in this place, which has often been called 'the closest thing to heaven on earth.'"
A commemorative worship service held June 27 brought together many members and friends of the Masonic Village family. The past 100 years were remembered while reflecting on the next century. "Lord, as we celebrate this 100th anniversary, may you continue your blessings upon this place, these people, our community and the charity that has helped sustain this, our Masonic Village," Rev. and Bro. A. Preston Van Deursen, Casiphia Lodge No. 551, Mount Joy, Grand Chaplain and Director of Pastoral Care for the Masonic Village, said during the service.
On July 9, a special centenarian birthday celebration was held for eight residents of Masonic Village at Elizabethtown who are age 100 or older. The residents and their friends and family enjoyed music and cake while sharing personal reflections and Masonic Village memories.
Many hands and much heart went into the planning of these centennial celebrations, and special thanks go to all who made them possible. Based on Freemasonry's values of brotherly love, charity and truth, the Masonic Villages' second Century of Service holds limitless opportunities for hundreds, and even thousands, of people to grow, receive care and be loved and inspired, giving the Masonic family many more reasons to celebrate.
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