Grand Master, M W Jeffrey M. Williamson, opened the Annual Grand Lodge Session of the State of New York on a glorious Monday morning at the Grand Lodge building in Manhattan. He introduced many Brothers who were influential in helping Masonry obtain the many gains in Brotherhood that we have made over the past year. He spoke about the help in raising money to benefit Wiley Hall, which was updated and redecorated over this last year and he thanked all those who helped raise the funds to refurbish Wiley Hall.
The Grand Master then thanked the Brothers of Lebanon for the great trip that he had taken there and how the Brothers of New York were committed to helping their Brothers in Lebanon.
The Grand Master spoke about membership, dealing with North Star and how we can help new members feel more welcome, because, EVERY Brother matters! The GM has written to and received much feedback from NPD Brothers and the North Star Project has helped over 900 Brothers stay in their Lodges. He reiterated that we must guard well the West Gate.
He thanked all of the Lodges for the invitations over the past year to Degrees and Centennial festivities.
Over the past year he has extended our Grand Lodge’s recognition to the Grand Orients of many areas and thanked them for their presence at our Grand Lodge Session.
The GM spoke of the consolidation of Districts and Lodges and he wants all the Lodges to keep Masonry strong and growing.
The GM thanked his staff and the Deputy Grand Master for their help in keeping order in the many Districts and the Grand Lodge. The GM then introduced the DGM Charlie Catapano who spoke about, and thanked, the Trustees for all the work they have done over the past year.
Grand Treasurer RW Peter Flihan III spoke next finance committee and the many reports by all the subcommittees about how money has been spent. He will start the new Treasurers instruction for Lodges in the very near future.
Grand Secretary RW Paul Rosen said if you have a question please call him, he is usually in the office. He stated that he cannot change the information on MORI. We have a total of 39,622 Masons in the state and 1,700 of those are new members.
RW Bruce Testut Spoke about the concordant bodies and how successful they have been this past year.
RW George Getman then talked about the Masonic Hall and home and how well they are doing financially. He said that this can only continue with support for the healthcare services in Utica by all Masons.
All those working at the Livingston Library are committed to keeping the library going in the direction it has been going in, up!
One of the heads of the Medical Research Lab spoke about advancing their work in scientific research especially Sudden Death Syndrome in children. He said that having the right people in place is the most important asset in any work place.
RW Bruce Renner, Treasurer of the Library had nine (9) objectives for the Library, one which we voted on. He thanked everyone for their vision in seeing and embracing the needs of the Library. Most books and manuscripts are donated not purchased, which he thanked everyone and asked that everyone keep their support ongoing for the Library.
The Grand Lodge of Syria gave a report on the travels of the Grand Master to their country and the troubles they have had over the years being Masons. They are proud that they have New York Masons to help keep them going throughout the years. Three people received the Chapter Medal of Lebanon from Grand Master Williamson, two from New York and one from Lebanon.
Our own W Christopher Kane presented a nice check to RW Bruce Testut for the Brotherhood Fund from the Queens District.
We then broke for Lunch till 2 PM. When we came back the Chair of the Finance Committee gave his report for the last year and also the Budget for up-coming year, which was approved.
RW Steven A. Rubin gave the Judge Advocates report of the nine decisions of which there were nine, three had to do with men applying to become Master Masons. A man accused of raping a juvenile or an admitted sex offender cannot be voted in. It is also a violation to secretly record another Master Mason. The Grand Master and the Judge Advocate will always defend what is right! The Judge Advocate also stated that all lodges must file a tax return and send copies to the Grand Lodge every year.
The visiting Dignitaries then presented the Grand Master with gifts from their jurisdictions.
Correspondence and Joint Appointment Committee Chairman then spoke about the suspension of relations with Scotland because three expelled New York Masons were made Masons in Scotland.
After a few more reports were given then the activities of the day were concluded at 3:30 P M, to resume on Tuesday May 2, 2017 at 8:30 A M.
After opening the Grand Lodge on Tuesday, the Grand Master thanked all who went to the dinner the night before, most everyone had a good time. After that, the Grand Master received a seven hundred dollar ($700.00) donation for the Brotherhood Fund from the Florida Shriners.
A collection was taken for a Brother with a very bad heart condition and while that was going on the Grand Lodge Secretary read off the delinquent Lodges.
Our own RW Stewart C. McCloud II gave his report from the Ritual Renaissance Committee. “Together We Build” is their Motto the committee has been looking at how all Lodges are doing and helping them to concentrate on their Degree work.
We then had a report on the Constitution and proposals read by MW Carl Fitje. We heard the pros and cons of the proposed amendments and then voted on them.
RW Richard Kessler then spoke about his journey through New York State with his talk about the Middle Chamber Lecture and Ritual work. He said we all need to strive for perfection in all our Degrees. He then received the Wendel Walker Builder of Men Award from the Grand Master.
MW Carl Fitje spoke about Masonic Jurisprudence. He said that these Brothers protect the laws and rules for the Grand Lodge and the Craft as well as people within Masonry and the Constitutions. He then read the changes and they were voted upon.
The Commissioner of the Board of Appeals said that RW Howard Bonsaing, even though he was not a lawyer was still on the committee.
The Grand Organist RW Frank Miller was given the commission as Grand Organist for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.
We then came to the elections for the Grand Line for the ensuing year. With that the Grand Master made a motion for the Deputy Grand Master Charles Catapano to be voted out, because of Un-Masonic conduct in public. The allegations were explained in detail and an affirmative vote was taken. We then had nominations and a vote in which RW William Sardone was the successor. All other officers were elected and accepted.
With that the Bible was closed and after a short break the Brothers were installed with much pomp and pageantry.
It was quite an eventful two days; I’m glad I was there to report to all my Brothers of the Queens District the news of what went on at the 236th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.
W Nicholas V. Isabella