MW Past Grand Masters, Distinguished East, Brethren, Ladies and Guests,
As I stand before you as your Grand Master is both humbled and excited. And to use the words of a certain Grand Commander of Scottish Rite “I am just a DeMolay boy from Manhattan”. In fact, I was installed as the DeMolay Jurisdictional Master Councilor in this Grand Lodge room in 1967.
For centuries this Fraternity has provided the world with an unparalleled set of morals and standards that have shaped countries and the lives of its people. Grand Master’s before me have been entrusted with the gavel of authority not just to lead, but to motivate, inspire and with guidance of the Grand Architect of the Universe, make the right decisions. Being your Grand Master allows me the opportunity to help all of you… help others.
I find myself to be a lucky man. Lucky in the sense that I am following MW Jeffrey M. Williamson as Grand Master . We have known each other for a number of years and recently our roles in New York and the International arena crossed paths many times. He as the Grand Masters of New York Masons and me as the Grand Master of DeMolay International. We would share ideas and concerns and it became obvious to me that this was a dedicated man and Mason and we both had the same goals for our organizations. Thank you Grand Master.
Fate intervened, and I quickly saw the path this Grand Jurisdiction was on and started cementing ideas and plans to continue and enhance MW Williamsons programs and direction. As such, task forces have been established to bring new technology to you, the local leaders. We are streamlining some processes while maintaining our founding core values and we will continue to support and augment our charitable obligation.
Some of these plans have already launched on a small scale and will continue to roll out in a quality manner.
As always Nancy and our Daughter Alyssa knew this was something I felt I could make a difference with and stood by me with my decision. Having my son Michael here today is an added emotional pleasure and I thank RW Richard Ticknor for handling and making all the surprise travel arrangements. My son Michael, his wife and our two grandchildren round out the younger side of this family.
I have turned to our Past Grand Masters as a Board and as individuals for guidance and I have reviewed my ideas with them. At each turn they have utilized their experience and helped me make decisions. I will continue to use them as a resource for our forward movement.
Masonry is strong in symbolism and their participation in today’s installation as all our hands became one, symbolizes the one team concept that we have always enjoyed.
In many ways we are facing a set of challenges that other years have not seen. The biggest one was the loss of our Grand Secretary RW Paul Rosen. He was a brave man who fought hard. His loss left a deep void, but we are fortunate that RW Richard Bateman added yet another level of work to his growing responsibilities and stepped in to help keep us whole.
It is obvious that DeMolay has played a significant role in my life and that of our Grand Lodge. At our Grand Master’s Dinner last night all Senior DeMolays were asked to gather for a picture. Over 100 were in that picture. Supporting DeMolay as well as Rainbow and Triangle will continue to be a focus of mine. We know it works.
When you look at those who have been installed, you will see familiar faces but in different roles. Some may view this as a problem, I view this as fresh new ideas.
You have seen the success our Trustees of the Hall of Home as they continue to provide care for our Seniors and our youngsters in Day Care services. You have seen the rebirth and rebranding of our Masonic Medical Research Institute and their path that continues to evolve. And if you have not experienced our Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library you need to put in on your list.
I congratulate and thank RW Bruce Renner for his work as President of the Library Trustees, but his retirement leaves a vacancy until their June meeting. I am pleased to announce that after consultation with MW Edward Gilbert, he has accepted the position of President of the Library during this interim period of time.
While these are jewels of our Fraternity, the real jewels are you…the members. You are the ones who bring aid to your neighbors, you are the ones who keep the lights on in the buildings with the square and compasses on the door, you are the ones who carry our banners in the parades and you are the ones who complete the first handshake of the Masonic Experience for our members.
You are also the ones that I will come to when supporting our select charitable endeavor at the Masonic Care Community which is building a Greenhouse in Utica, NY. Without going into long details, we have seen the joy our residents and the children have experienced with the raised beds that have been placed at the Masonic Care Community. We have testimony from them about “enjoying the dirt” and “loving the flowers”. But the season is short in Utica, NY. Very Short!
We will provide them a location to grow all year round as a family. We will include rehab opportunities as we “grow together”. Each lodge will be given a mini greenhouse to collect the donations. This is work in motion and gaining in popularity each day and your generosity will be appreciated for years to come.
In your towns and cities, YOU are the Grand Lodge. I now go on record that this Grand Line is committed to helping you make the right choices and we are committed to providing you with as many tools as we can to help you succeed.
The NorthStar Program for membership has shown it can be successful. But like any program, it must constantly be reviewed for efficiency. Therefore, we are adding other components such as targeting specific markets. We will continue the West Gate Background checks. Other jurisdictions and organizations have picked up our same exact program which seems be becoming the standard.
I was invigorated with the response at our District Deputy Grand Master and Staff Officer Educational Rally in Utica, NY. Not just with the material, but with the proactive attitudes of those in attendance who were offering skill sets for what we need. I did not need to advertise. I just needed to gather as many numbers as possible from those excited masons as they offered their fields of expertise. We plan to roll out these ideas in test markets to see if they work or need retooling. But they are coming.
These past few days have been steeped in ceremony, constitutional commitments and positive energy. But it does not stop here. We have new lodges that are forming, new districts that have been established and new adventures that we will experience.
My thanks to St. John’s Lodge for securing the Bible that Brother George Washington took his oath of office on. Our building service people here at 23rd Street continue to be proactive as they positively reactive to our needs. Thank you RW Frank Miller our Organist. I always marvel at his talents and was taken aback when I learned he played one of the organs at Radio City Music Hall and for Two Presidents. Our Convention Committee is a well-oiled team that works long hours in preparation and implementation of a massive event such as we have just experienced over the last few days. Well Done.
Our St. Johns Weekend Plans are locked in and will begin with a concert at the Stanley Theater in Utica, NY on June 21, 2018. This a concert with a renowned group that performs music from the Beatles and others. Our Masonic Medical Research Institute is coordinating this fund-raising event for their 60th Anniversary. We will then move onto the Campus of the Masonic Care Community where we will have Parades, Dedications, Celebrations and Fireworks as we commemorate 125 years of the MCC helping others.
And from a Grand Lodge perspective we will be having the Grand Masters Ball on October 6, 2018 at Russo’s on the Bay whose proceeds will all go to our newly established charitable project at the Masonic Care Community. This Event will also have a live show and entertainment from an outstanding group from Atlantic City.
As today draws to a close, we will all start heading back to our families, homes and lodges. And our Grand Jurisdiction with its tens of thousands of members will continue planning degrees, picnics, and charitable work. But when you think about it, you will be just like you have always been. Good men and Masons.
I have had many honors of recognition in DeMolay, Corporate America, the United States Army and from other Countries.
But nothing compares to kneeling at the Altar of Freemasonry and the confidence you have placed in me.
God Bless each and everyone of you. God Bless our Masonic Fraternity and God Bless the United States of America.
Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York