Companions and Ladies,
First, thank you for electing me as Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter State of New York, Royal Arch Masons. I am humbled by the trust and confidence you have in me to lead our Grand Chapter for the ensuing Capitular year.
No matter how much preparation an individual does, it cannot prepare anyone for the feeling and responsibility being a leader of our Royal Craft and I will do my utmost to fulfil the obligations placed upon me today. It is the diligent enthusiasm I have seen throughout New York State in each and every one of you that has kept me going on this Capitular journey. I truly value your friendship and Companionship.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Installation Team, M.E. Piers Vaughan, M.E. Bruce Renner, M.E. & M.W. Jeffrey Williamson, M.E. James Hemstrought, M.E. Michael Dunn, M.E. Edmund Harrison, M.E. Paul Huck, and all the Grand High Priests who have gone before me.
It was a great feeling when I appointed all the District Deputy Grand High Priests and Assistant Grand Lecturers, realizing that I know all of you, and I look forward to working with you all in 2022. The Grand Line will continue to have monthly Zoom meetings which should mean we will continue to feel connected as a State. Your Regional Officer will have an opportunity to communicate with others on the Grand Line. I feel there is a great support network with so much Royal Arch experience on the Grand Line – I am a good listener and incorporate what I observe into decisions when needed.
Most Excellent Brian Singer and Most Excellent David Raymond have had two of the most difficult years having to constantly adjust their plans and hopes drastically because of the global Pandemic which continues to impact us all. With that in mind, it was a major influence in developing of the motto I am using in my year.
I was a Staff Officer for M.W. James Sullivan who had the motto, “Pride in Freemasonry” in 2012-2014 which I have adapted for Capitular use into “Chapter Pride”.
I believe strongly that as we lived through the pandemic, we reassessed those values that are most important to us. It is no longer a constant work life that is key, but flexibility of work that allows us to live our lives to the fullest. Likewise, by focusing back on our individual Chapters and feeling the sense of Pride when we are with our Companions is the most important thing I can communicate as part of my message for 2022. Let the focus be on our Chapters.
By the efforts of Most Excellent Piers Vaughan in 2014, we have the Capitular Development Course which has not only been adopted by the General Grand Chapter, but also by the Grand Chapters of Oklahoma, Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and may make an appearance in Spanish and Portuguese for those Grand Chapters of Latin America following the American York Rite. Because of this New York continues to be a Leader in Capitular Masonry. Most Excellent Piers Vaughan also revamped the Grand Chapter website in 2014 with E. Ken Stuczynski and it is still largely in that same format, and I think it continues to serve the Grand Chapter members well.
The Education Officer Program introduced by M.E. Brian Singer has been very successful and reports from all 17 Education Officers were collected by M.E. Vaughan and included in that Committee Report which hopefully you have read. I truly think that the educational jewels we have are keeping our Companions interested and involved and that they will continue to attract new Companions. Therefore, I am proud to continue this endeavor.
I have traveled New York State as a Grand Line Officer and the place I am happiest is when I am visiting a Chapter. Please ensure your website, Facebook Page, the Grand Chapter Directory is up to date with your information so you may welcome travelling Companions such as myself!
Chapters, please ensure your 990-N is filed by your secretary, or if your status has lapsed be sure to work with someone to reinstate your status.
We are blessed to have an Officer Manager Sandy Rembetski, and M.E. Michael Dunn as Grand Secretary. Please be considerate of them and give them plenty of notice for any actions you need from the Grand Secretary’s office.
An old saying tells us that you cannot choose the masonic Brothers you are raised with, but you can choose your Companions. I certainly support my Lodge and give advice when called upon as a Past Master. But it was when I joined my Chapter, that I really got to meet other like-minded individuals from the other Manhattan Districts, which strengthened my Masonic Experience. The results are what you see before you today. It was in my Chapter that true fervency and zeal started to burn strongly within me.
The Blue Lodges are guarding the West Gate, and our Chapters also need to be diligent in selecting future members. We need to share our Chapter Pride with those Master Masons who are seeking to continue their Masonic Journey. Do not give a petition to Master Masons who have only just been raised let them develop as Brothers, and at a future stage in their journey they may be right for your Chapter. Believe me I have seen Masons who display a ‘hail fellow well met’ exterior, and externally would appear to have no time or patience for the deeper workings that Capitular Masonry offers, but once you really get to know them as individuals, they can often turn out to be the most enlightened Masons under their glossy exterior. You can usually see the twinkle in their eyes as you make that discovery! Bring the right candidates into your Chapter and they will be your future Officers and future High Priests. Nurture them and invest your time. The dividends paid will be key to the future of your Chapter.
A passion of mine has been Observant Masonry and as such today, I am setting up an Observant Chapters Committee to publish guidelines and give Chapters that choose to follow that path something to strive for. Observant Masonry has become a familiar phase, synonymous with excellence in ritual, education and the formality of its events and Festive Boards. It will not be for every Chapter, but there are a number of Chapters I know very well that would appreciate this recognition from Grand Chapter. By having a broad structure, I think it will motivate those Chapters whose members appreciate this approach to follow that Tradition. I hope to be in a position to present Observant Charter recognition certificates next year. I have asked R.E. Rick Powell to be Chairman of that committee, and E. Bradley Hubbard to be a Committee member please Stand up companions, also would the members of my other chapter Suwassett Chapter #195 also stand to be recognized as the inspiration for this program. Watch for details in NYRAM News!
Talking of NYRAM News, it was made a household name by M.E. Raymond Roche. I continued to serve as its Editor for many years, but I am happy to see it evolve after me under the care of the Managing Editor E. Rich Torrey and his creative graphical design skills. I encourage everyone to sign up for this monthly State Online Publication. Please stand to be recognized and I hope Ann will allow you to spend time on NYRAM News now you have retired from your profession.
The Royal Arch Mason Magazine is a Quarterly publication by General Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons International with an eight-page New York State insert in the center. Grand Chapter pays the subscription for all our members to receive a copy – if you are not receiving this publication contact your secretary to make certain that ensure your address is correct and current.
Thanks to M.E. Jeffrey Williamson in 2010 we have the very successful Zerubbabel Society which continues to motivate Charity Giving by Companions, and co-ordination of the presentation of your Membership Jewel and lapel pins will continue in 2022 to be administered by M.E. James Hemstrought, Jr.
I will continue to promote the Ladies pin that Lady Sally Singer used. In 2021 she was able to contribute $1,350 to MMRI Autism Research – be sure to buy one for your Lady. You will see that they are beautiful Forget Me Not flowers which match perfectly with what I am about to sell you!
The Charity Pins have been paid for by Ancient Chapter No.1, would all members of Ancient Chapter please stand – because of your support all the proceeds from pin donations will go directly to Royal Arch Charities when Companions buy one from your District Deputy Grand High Priest. The DDGHPs have prepaid for pins and we have already raised $1,650 this weekend which I handed to the Grand High Priest earlier today.
You might be gifted one by another Companion who has bought it on your behalf. The pin itself was designed and produced for me by my friend and Brother John Bridegroom of Indiana. It is a beautiful design incorporating the Forget Me Not which I selected for its European Masonic symbology. It was used by Masons prior to World War II on their lapels instead of the Square and Compass to discreetly show their Masonic affiliation. It is a symbol that reminds us of resilience and resistance, and of love for the Fraternity and its principles, even under distress and persecution. The pin has the triple tau in the center of this Forget Me Not, and it is surrounded by the arch that many of us have in our Chapters – but most importantly it shows OUR CHAPTER PRIDE.
It is a discreet pin that you can wear to your Blue Lodge, and those with inquisitive minds who are Brothers you should be attracting to your Chapter may ask why you are wearing a Forget Me Not on a red background instead of a blue one – the rest is up to you my Companions!
Would the Youth members present and any adult volunteers please stand. We had a wonderful banquet last night and beautiful speeches from the State representatives of the Youth Groups. In past years the youth groups depart prior to the Public installation so it is special to me that the Organization of Triangles State Representative and adult leaders are here this morning. Royal Arch members have been supportive of the Youth Groups and I look forward to that continuing.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the ladies here. I do not have a Lady I have 20 Ladies at last count – Without the Ladies I don’t know think any of this would be possible. Your husbands get to where they need to be because of you – in most cases they look pretty decent.
I always appreciate seeing the Ladies bright smiling faces whenever we get together, but I would I feel it necessary to mention two ladies who are not with us today.
The first one I like to mention is my mother, all these years going through the ground line, I was looking forward to flying my mom across from England and have her meet my second family – my Royal Arch family, you’ve all adopted me as one of your own and I appreciate that. Sadly she passed away March 8, 2018 four years ago next Tuesday. It seems like yesterday that following a heart valve operation she caught an infection and passed to the eternal East.
My mom was a selfless person, I grew up in London in the 70s and 80s and she had to look after four growing boys. As a one-parent mother things were difficult, but we never wanted for anything she definitely made the money stretch sometimes I think that she probably make sure that we had something to eat instead of eating herself, that was the kind of person she was. Whatever she have however, she would freely give away to those less fortunate. You see the person standing here because of her. Later on, she meet my stepfather so I have 6 brothers and one sister all in the UK.
The lady who I feel has been here in spirit this whole weekend, we all greatly miss Joanne Kessler. I would’ve loved to have been standing here with her being with the Ladies. Joanne put everyone else before herself, she wouldn’t take any nonsense she wouldn’t allow any Masonic politics win – she would just say things that were honest and she spoke from her heart.
If there’s anything I would like you to leave this beautiful weekend with its one word.
A word these two ladies encompassed – “COMPASSION”!
In that spirit of compassion, let all our prays be with the people of Ukraine.
God Bless our fraternity and inspire us to become an example to the world
ME Jason P Sheridan
Grand High Priest 2022