|Volume LVIII||November 2011||Number 4|
Message from the Grand Master
To My Respected Brethren,
It has been my privilege and honor to have served as your Grand Master over the past two years. The experience has been humbling, rewarding and quite frankly, exhausting. And as I near the end, I realize that it will be great to have a personal life again!
Over the past century, prior to the launch of the Renaissance, I believe Freemasonry had been running on autopilot. Our previous leaders have all been great, decent and respected men who have served humbly and with great sacrifice to their personal lives to make continuous improvements and enhancements for our membership. However, many have been cautious about breaking the status quo ... because we all know that nobody likes change, and nobody likes to bear the brunt of those who oppose contemporary influence upon our beautiful ritual and customs. Over the past two years, I have labored to implement what some consider "radical" changes - changes that require strong, steadfast leadership; courage; and the understanding of the brethren - to make this fraternity contemporary with the times in which we live.
I have certainly had my critics, especially early in my administration. Many of the critics became supporters after hearing me personally, at the Renaissance Visitations, explain my reasons. I was able to show the decreasing membership numbers and how that forecasted a bleak future for a fraternity that we all love so much. I was able to demonstrate my passion and show the brethren that my basis for change came from within my heart. During those times of criticism, I found satisfaction in one of my favorite quotes by Bro. Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
In addition, there were some who made their criticisms personal. When considering those attacks and how to respond, I thought of the story of the American Eagle and the hawk. An eagle can fly to an impressive height of 30,000 feet. Hawks, on the other hand, can't fly quite so high, so they like to land and perch on an eagle when they can to take advantage of his superior power. What's amazing is, that as annoying as that must be, an eagle will not fight the hawk; instead, he flies high enough so that the hawk can no longer breathe and has to get off his back. You might say the eagle takes the "high road" when dealing with provocation. That is how I would like to think I attempted to handle the challenges I faced during my administration. Like the eagle, I chose to take the high road!
Whether you agreed with the 21st Century Masonic Renaissance or not, it has undeniably swept not only our great Commonwealth, but the entire country! Hundreds of times during the past two years, I have had out-of-state Masons come to me and thank me for having the courage to bring our fraternity into the 21st century. Brethren, our fraternity is growing, not only in numbers, but also in strength. We should all be proud to be a part of the rebirth of the world's greatest fraternity!
What is most important is that we all have the best interests of Pennsylvania Freemasonry in our minds and hearts, and that we work together in unanimity as brothers should.
I have greatly appreciated the support of the Grand Lodge Officers and the hard work of the District Deputy Grand Masters, Worshipful Masters, Lodge Secretaries and all of you who have joined me in this 21st Century Masonic Renaissance. Most of all, none of this would have been possible without the patience and love of my wife, Joan, who gave up so much to allow me to serve the fraternity in this capacity.
My fellow Freemasons, I have given it all. I attended 324 meetings, spent 303 nights away from home and arranged to be in the Philadelphia office on 92 days. It has truly been a labor of love for which I have been grateful to serve, but most of all, proud of OUR accomplishments.
Finally, it is with the utmost confidence and respect that I wish the best to Brother Jay Smith, an exemplary Mason, who will serve as our next Grand Master.
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