Volume LVIIINovember 2011Number 4

The Grand Master's Q & A

Q. What have been your most satisfying accomplishments, and what are you most proud of?

A. Let me answer it this way.

  • First and foremost, I am so proud of the brotherhood and their willingness to change the fraternity and give it a chance to survive.
  • Obviously, I am proud to say that we will likely have initiated approximately 8,000 new members in my two years. That is a significant improvement over the last 50 years.
  • With the advent of our two new parade floats, we were able to participate in numerous parades, expose our fraternity and make it more transparent.
  • We spent time and energy to be more inclusive and to recognize our ladies, who make such a great sacrifice to our brothers, which ultimately strengthens our lodges.
  • I was proud to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of our Masonic Village at Elizabethtown. I felt great pride and satisfaction every time that I stepped on that hallowed ground in Elizabethtown and throughout the Masonic Villages across the state. All Pennsylvania Masons should be proud of that precious gift that we provide to our older members.
  • Our lodges worked hard and found creative ways to raise $732,000 for our Masonic Villages.
  • I was proud to be elected as the General Chairman of the Conference of Grand Masters of North America.
  • I was pleased to direct the establishment of the Masonic Temple Preservation Fund, which will allocate an initial $10,000,000 for securing the future of our Masonic Temple in Philadelphia.
  • I was happy to see my dream of building a new health care center at our Masonic Village at Sewickley come to fruition. This exceptional upgrade completes the circle of excellence of our Masonic Villages.
  • It was a thrill for me, personally, to visit the smallest lodge in Pennsylvania in Rome, Pa. Those brothers live the spirit of Masonry every day.
  • It was wonderful to present the Franklin Medal to Brother Ernie Borgnine.
  • I have watched Pennsylvania Rainbow and DeMolay grow.
  • More Masons are learning our beautiful ritual now than have been for a long time. The ritual manual has been a blessing.
  • I have enjoyed making our relationship with our Prince Hall brothers even closer. This has been very rewarding.

This is long answer, but truthfully, it is only a fraction of my satisfaction.

Q. Have there been disappointments?

A. Obviously, there have been some, but they have never distracted me from the main goal of the Renaissance. Let me say this - there is more to the position of Grand Master than the ceremonial side that most Masons see. At times, the role is similar to that of a CEO, having to make challenging decisions for the good of the entire corporation. At other times, it's like being back on my old police beat, ensuring that our Masonic laws and obligations are being upheld. Regardless, nothing compares to the great satisfaction of serving our brethren in Pennsylvania.

Q. What did you not get done that you would have liked to have done?

A. I would have liked to have had the time to create a fail-safe financial and accounting system for every lodge that would prevent the few occasions of theft, and at the same time, make the financial and auditing process more efficient and simply easier for the lodges.

I wish we would streamline our meetings to make them more interesting and less ritualistic. There is a balance possible without wrecking our great heritage.

I wish I would have had the time to create a "Cookbook for Success" whereby all lodges could witness the successful ideas that other lodges have. This would help increase attendance and encourage all lodges to have more interesting programs and events.

I could go on, but there is only so much one Grand Master is able to accomplish in two years. There are limits to the amount of change the membership is willing to accept at one time, because let's face it - change is difficult!

Q. Do you believe the Renaissance was a success?

A. I truly believe it was. The membership numbers seem to validate it. However, it is not for me to evaluate. The brothers now and in the future will be the true judges of the Renaissance.

Q. What would you say to the brothers in Pennsylvania as you leave office?

A. Thank you for understanding why I felt the need to reform our ways of operation. Thank you for being tolerant of my ideas. Thank you for keeping the fire of Freemasonry burning. AND, THANK YOU FOR PERMITTING ME TO LIVE A DREAM!

"The true secret of this fraternity is not in a hand shake or in the ritual; but rather, the real secret is in how one brother feels about another brother who has travelled the same Masonic pathway. This feeling cannot be purchased; it cannot be described or defined. It is just there!"

Thomas K. Sturgeon

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