"The Greatest of These is Charity"
Fraternal Greetings Brothers,
Last year, my motto was FRATERNITATIS IN DOMI ET SUPRA. Brotherhood at home and beyond. To that end we hoped to achieve the goals of building on the fellowship in our own lodge and forging links with our sister lodges in the district and beyond. I think we went very far in achieving the particular goals we laid out to fulfill that vision: to build a new web and social media presence, to have more fellowship nights, and most importantly, to travel to other lodges. Indeed we now have a new website and a growing Facebook presence. We did have more fellowship nights, though this will be an area of growth which we must continue to nurture.
And did we ever travel.
We have, I believe, the distinction of being THE lodge that visited every single lodge in this district at least once, if not a number of times, and with an official delegation of at least three brothers -- although we have sent delegations of one or two on additional visits and upwards of ten at one degree. In addition to these adventures, some of our brothers have gone on to visit lodges in Manhattan, just out of the sheer joy of traveling and meeting new brothers, which is our Masonic right. I think we can fairly say, as far as these modest goals are concerned, Mission accomplished.
Now, these activities must continue through this next year and beyond -- cultivating friendship here and abroad. But I think I’d like to shift the emphasis somewhat and try to build something that Masons have ever been known for: our Charity. In that spirit, I have chosen a new motto for this new Masonic season: MAJOR HORUM EST CARITAS. The greatest of these is charity. This is an adaptation of a verse written by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Corinthians where he admonishes us to have faith, hope, and charity, but raises charity above all as the greatest of these. MAJOR HORUM EST CARITAS. The greatest of these is charity -- or unconditional love.
Many of you have heard St. Paul’s encomium to love if you’ve ever been to a Christian wedding -- it’s one of the readings nearly always given. St. Paul privileged charity or love over faith and hope, but he never really told us why faith and hope are not as great. Interestingly enough, Masonry does. The truth is that faith and hope have have a shelf life. Once you see what it is you believe or hope for, there’s no need to believe or hope for it. You have it. You’ve seen it.
But charity or unconditional love has no sell by date. It lasts forever because it has effects beyond that initial act of kindness. It is enduring and never ends.
We have done much already as a fraternity. Every year we literally ring in the holiday season on behalf of the Salvation Army -- and usually beat the Rotary Club in the amount we raise, though not this year. We contribute to the Brotherhood Fund in support of our various charities and research institutions. This past year we, together with brothers from Huguenot and John Jay, supported my wife’s London Marathon fundraiser for the Organization for Autism Research. We also, in conjunction with John Jay Lodge, raised monies through a concert given by R.’.W.’. Miller for the Westchester School for Special Children. We also participated -- and won second place, I might add -- in a district charity wing eating contest to raise funds for Elmsford first responders. We have done and do much in the name of charity.
But I feel like we can do more. Whether it’s in raising the bar in our existing endeavors or introducing new drives to meet needs where we can, I feel like we need to find new avenues to be of service and to do so in a personally meaningful way. This is big part of what Masonry is about. And I raise the challenge to myself and my brothers to call attention to how we can make a difference in the lives of those who need our assistance. As officers of White Plains Lodge we will spend this summer reflecting on ideas and coming up with plans to add to that aforementioned list. To make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Because that is what we are here for. And that is what gives life meaning.
Finally, some words of thanks.
To our friends, we thank you for celebrating with us and opening yourself something new and, perhaps, strange and mysterious -- we do, as I’m sure you well know, have secrets we cannot reveal…
My brothers in the district, I cannot thank you enough for your support this past year and it gives me courage to know that I have your support during this next year.
My brothers of White Plains Lodge, I thank you for the confidence you have placed in W.’. Palazola, R.’.W.’. Cunzio, Bro. Genovese, Bro. Papademetriou and myself, by electing us as your servants. We hope to live up to that trust.
To the officers, both elected and appointed, who served with me this past year and those who will now serve during this ensuing year, I cannot thank you enough for your enthusiasm, commitment and support. Our line is practically at full strength. And in you I see even greater achievements in the future of White Plains Lodge.
I hear that I have the distinction -- or notoriety, as the case may be -- of being only the fourth Master of White Plains Lodge in its 158 year history to be installed for a second term. Such was the strength of White Plains Lodge, known throughout the 2nd Westchester-Putnam District as White Plains Nation, that we typically only served one year terms. The first was a W.’.M.’. Named D. Austin Sniffin, who served two seasons from 1903 through 1905. He was a well respected dentist who consulted for Westchester County and was chief of dentistry at White Plains Hospital -- I mention this in passing, only because we have a number of brothers -- W.’. Palazola, W.’. Horrell, and Bro. Lovato, immediately come to mind -- who work at White Plains Hospital, where all good Masons hope to convalesce.
The second two term Master was our very own installing marshal, R.’.W.’. Romulo Quesada, who served during 198_ and 198_ seasons. R.’.W.’. Quesada has been a great support to this lodge, sitting in chairs that went vacant due to the vicissitudes and challenges in the lives of some of our officers, and seeing us through to this very night where we finally are back to a much greater measure of strength. For me, he has been a source of wisdom and good counsel, helping me through my first term as Master, keeping me from making too many mistakes. R.’.W.’. Quesada, thank you for serving as our installing marshall this evening, and for all you have done and do for this lodge. We, your brothers, will always be in your debt.
The third Master to serve two terms, albeit non-consecutively, was our Installing Chaplain, W.’. Leslie Horrell. W.’. Horrell was called upon to serve that second term when the lodge was in need of leadership to help bring the lodge back to health and strength. It was under W.’. Horrell’s first term of office that I was raised as Master Mason and I will always remember him for that. And it was under W.’. Horrell’s second term that we began a program of education to cultivate the new candidates and brothers -- and this before Grand Lodge’s new membership process was implemented. W.’. Horrell, thank you for serving as Chaplain this evening. Thank you for always being there for me when I needed help, and for all of your brothers when we all needed someone to help take us forward.
As the fourth Master in White Plains history to serve a second term, I am honored and privileged to have had W.’. Matthew Palazola imprison me, I mean, install me for this second go around. W.’. Palazola, I cannot begin to count the number times your timely advice and reminders have kept me looking like a master before the brethren. As master, I have had the rare privilege to observe your duty of care for this lodge, for much that goes unseen in the care and preservation of this institution, its properties and its traditions. I thank you for your service tonight as installing officer, but this is in fact emblematical of all that you do for this lodge that often goes unacknowledged.
I would be remiss -- and in the proverbial dog house -- if I did not thank the one person who has literally saved my life and kept me above water. My wife and partner in life. Christi, I cannot thank you enough for all that you do to support me in life, and in the work I do for this lodge. You are my joy and my reason for being. Ladies and gentlemen, brethren all, you have this woman to thank not only for lending me to this lodge in service, but for all of the preparations downstairs. This event as it is would not have been possible without her taking charge of the food and decor. But most importantly, I could not take on the challenges of leading *this* great fraternity without her unfailing support and love.
Finally, it goes without saying, that our humblest and eternal gratitude goes to the G.A.O.T.U., in whom we move and breathe and find the greatest meaning in life, which in great measure, is in all of that which we love and for all of that which we are always grateful.
It was a brilliant year. And I look forward to another exciting year with all of you beginning this September. Have a fun and exciting summer!
S.'. & F.'.,
W.'. Raphael Wong
Master, White Plains Lodge