Sunday, January 31, 2010

Zuhrah Potentate's Ball

Patty and I attended Potentate Darryl Metzger's Potentate's Ball last night. The food and fellowship were exceptional!

The hospitality rooms and entertainment by the Shrine musical groups were terrific.

Thank you, Illustrious Sir Darryl and the members of Zuhrah Temple for a great evening.

Shown with Patty and me are High Priest and Prophet Al Niederhaus and his Lady, Deb.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Biwabik Master Mason Degree

It is, in fact, a long way from Winthrop to Biwabik, but I certainly am glad I made the trip yesterday. I had been looking for a chance to visit the home lodge of Past Grand Master Sam Dickinson and Area Deputy Rolf Widstrand, and it finally worked out for the Master Mason Degree last night.

Brother Don Prospeck received the degree mainly in a wheelchair. Shortly after having total knee replacement, Brother Don fell and broke his ankle. (Is that why they call him "Lucky"?) The accomodations were made to raise him last night, and the degree work was truly impressive.

In addition to Biwabik brothers, there were visitors from Two Harbors, Grand Rapids and probably at least one other lodge that comes not to memory at this time. The first section of the degree started at 5:00 p.m. and after a break for a delicious dinner, the second section was conferred.

Shown in the one photo is MWB Sam Dickinson, yours truly, new Master Mason Don Pospeck, Area Deputy Rolf Widstrand and Worshipful Master John Olness.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wayzata Table Lodge

I attended the Table Lodge in honor of Robert Burns, poet and Freemason, last night at the Wayzata Country Club. It was a first rate affair all around.

MWB Neil Neddermeyer acted as Master of the table lodge, and WB Andrew Brennan and I were piped in by applause of the guests present. Good food, good fellowship, wonderful toasts. It was a great evening.

One of the highlights for me was the toast to the victims of the Haiti earthquake, and their rescuers. MWB Neil set out his top hat, and by evening's end, $285 had been collected to be matched by another $285 from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota for earthquake relief to Masons in Haiti.

(You can send your check, payable to "Minnesota Masonic Charities" to the Grand Secretary, with"Haiti" in the memo, to qualify for matching funds.)(I have received an e-mail from my accountant this evening that we may be able to claim contributions to Haiti relief made this month on our 2009 tax returns! Check with your tax advisor!)

Thanks, Brothers of Wayzata Lodge No. 205! You done good!

Happy Birthday, Wolfgang!

Today is the 254th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, prolific composer and Freemason. His opera, The Magic Flute is said to be a Masonic opera.

You could judge for yourself. I received a message from Worshipful Brother Alan Peterson about a performance of that piece. See the message below, and, if it fits your schedule, you very well may wish to take it in!

Sunday April 18th at 1:30 pm, the University of Minnesota school of Music is performing our departed Brother Mozart’s, The Magic Flute. This opera has a magic concoction of singspiel, fairy-tale and Masonic ideology. 45 minutes prior to the performance, the director David Walsh will host a discussion about the opera in the lobby and you are welcomed to ask questions or listen to what is discussed.

Tickets are $20 per person or $10 if you are alumni, students and staff of the University. To order tickets you can either call 612-624-2345 or order online at for the performance. It is open seating.

Can I suggest that you make a special day of it by having lunch with others, either/or Mason’s or other people of your life, before the performance?If you have any questions, feel free to call me at 651-248-9926

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Flag Case

I walked into the Grand Master's office and discovered on the bookshelf that our Iraqi-flown American flag was in a beautiful new display case. After some intensive investigation (I asked Gary Odegard...), I found that Worshipful Brother Dale Seubert hand-crafted the case. He did, as you can see, a marvelous job.

This flag was donated to the Grand Lodge in 2008 by Brother Jon Morris, who served in the Rangers there. The certificate accompanying the flag - and shown in the photo - states:

"This flag of the United States of America is presented to: Grand Lodge of Minnesota, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons.

"This certifies that this flag was flown over the City of Anah, Iraq in the Western Anbar Province, in the face of the insurgent terrorist orgaization known as "The Isamic State of Iraq" on March 4, 2007 by Ranger Team One of B Co 1/194 MNARNG with Ranger Sergeant Jon Morris as non commissioned officer in charge."

Thank you, Brother Jon, for your service to our country and for remembering your brothers back home. And thank you, Worshipful Brother Dale, for crafting such a beautiful case to display and protect this treasure.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday - Robert Burns

January 25 marks the birthday of the Poet Laureate of Freemasonry, Robert Burns. He has written great, well-known poetry and song, including Auld Lang Syne and A Man's A Man for A' That."

Burns embraced the Masonic virtue of religious tolerance. In his letter to Agnes McLehose dated 12 January 1788 Burns expresses an all-embracing tolerance for different faiths:

“. . . mine is the Religion of the bosom. – I hate the very idea of controversial divinity; as I firmly believe, that every honest, upright man, of whatever sect, will be accepted of the Deity.”

U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan gave the inaugural Robert Burns Memorial Lecture, highlighting the bard's commitment to diversity and religious freedom.

Around the world, people celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns with good food, fine Scotch and, of course, Burns' poetry. (I'll be doing the same tonight - Tuesday - at the Wayzata Lodge Burns Night Table Lodge.) When we do, we should also recall that Burns' commitment to freedom of religion and tolerance of another's right to practice the religion of his choosing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finally! Caught Up!

I have finally caught up with blogging! Sorry to have so much to read at one time, but I do hope you'll check out the blogs of my visits to Lake Harriet, Corninthian and Minneapolis No. 19. Take a look at the photos from Gutter Bowl 4 and the Templar Lodge Rededication and table lodge.

Thanks for checking my blog from time to time. I really enjoy writing it.

Templar Lodge Table Lodge

To celebrate their newly refurbished lodge room, Templar Lodge hosted a table lodge Saturday evening with a great crowd, great food and great fellowship.

Past Master Chris Ronich acted as Master of the table lodge. A great time was had by all who attended.

Thank you, brothers of Templar Lodge, for giving me the privilege of being a part of your wonderful celebration!

Templar Lodge Rededication

Templar Lodge in St. Louis Park completed a revamping and redecorating of their lodge hall. Inspired by the lodge's name, the lodge hall has a castle look and feel, with coats of arms decorating the walls.

The Grand Lodge was invited to conduct a rededication ceremony, which we were pleased to do Saturday. A very nice crowd of brothers and guests were on hand to celebrate the refurbished facilities.

Shown in the photo is yours truly with John Magnuson Master of Paul Revere, Templar Lodge's predecessor 50 years ago when the lodge was built, after the previous building had burned. Next to PM John is WM Nicco Rocque and then PM Alan Betker, Master last year and project manager for this great improvement project.

Gutter Bowl 4

When we heard that Dave Lee, morning show host of WCCO Radio, had chosen the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital as the charity to be supported by his Gutter Bowl bowling tournament, we knew we had to field a team.

So our team of DGM John Cook, SGW Tom Hendrickson, Grand Secretary Doug Campbell, JGD Jim Christensen, Grand Chaplain Steve Johnson and "anchored" by yours truly, took to the lanes Friday morning and done ourselves proud! We even came home with a prize - a case of Schlitz for coming in second to the last!

But we raised some serious money for Amplatz Children's Hospital, I got my photo taken with Ron Coomer, Ron Gardenhire AND Andy Rice, and I even had the chance to say a few words about Masonry on the air with host Dave Lee.

I hope that Gutter Bowl 5 will again support the Amplatz Children's Hospital, and that the Grand Lodge can again field a team.

Metro West Masters and Wardens, and Actual Past Masters

I was just tickled when my schedule allowed me to attend the Metro West Masters and Wardens dinner and meeting Friday night, and to stick around after to take a small part in conferring the Actual Past Master's degree on several new members, including Junior Grand Deacon Jim Christensen and Junior Grand Steward Bob Darling!

Worshipful Master Matt Lundgren (president of MW Masters and Wardens) and Area Deputy Lee Dorholt presented a lot of information in a short time so the APM Degree could be conferred.

The degree is fun and very informative. I'd suggest that all you Senior Wardens reading this talk to your DR to try to have the degree conferred on you shortly after your installation as Master (tradition, as always, prevailing...)

Happy Birthday, Brother Fanning!

At the dinner preceding the degree work for Minneapolis Lodge No. 19 Wednesday, the Tyler of the Lodge was recognized for his upcoming birthday. Brother Donald Fanning turns 99 years young this week!

The photo shows the cake, and Worshipful Master Hulbert assisting Brother Fanning in cutting the cake with the Tyler's sword!

Serving as a most active tyler for his lodge is impressive in itself, but I also ran into Brother Don at Scottish Rite Thursday Night (he's a stalwart serving in the dining hall) AND at the Templar Lodge reconsecration program Saturday afternoon. Wow! What an active Mason, at ANY age!

Thank you, Brother Don, for an example to serve us all.

Minneapolis Lodge No. 19 EA Degree

On Wednesday, January 20, I had the pleasure of observing eight candidates take their first steps in the Masonic Journey. The brothers of Minneapolis Lodge No. 19 welcomed three more to their ranks that evening in ritual work that was most impressive.

I've mentioned before that the refurbished lodge room at the Harrington Mansion is so very nice! (It was featured in an article in the Minneapolis StarTribune shortly after Dan Brown's new book was released.) If you should ever attend a function at the Zuhrah Shrine Center, ask around to see if there is a 19'er around (there usually is!), and see if you can take a look at the lodge room.

At least as impressive for me was the fellowship and excellent ritual work, including all three sections of the lecture following the degree, that was presented by the brothers. Keep up the good work! And, thank you to Worshipful Master Peter Hulbert and all the brothers for making me feel so very welcome.

Cornithian Lodge Entered Apprentice Table Lodge

On Tuesday, January 19, Brother Ken Reynolds, Entered Apprentice from Sibley Lodge, accompanied me to Farmington for an Entered Apprentice Table Lodge.

During the course of the dinner and toasts, fournew candidates were initiated into Masonry by receiving the First Degree. (The photo shows the Senior Steward explaining preliminary matters to the candidate, and asking a few pertinent questions!)

The food, fellowship and ritual were very good! It was the first table lodge for our new brother from Sibley Lodge, and he enjoyed it immensely. (And, we had an opportunity to work on a little proficiency on the way!) Past Grand Master Tom Jackson was also in attendance, as was Deputy Grand Master John Cook.

Brother John Freeburg, who was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason the preceding Saturday at the One-Day class, was presented with a Masonic Bible.

Thank you, Worshipful Master Nick Johnson and all the brothers that made the degree, the meal and the toasts so memorable.

Lake Harriet Lodge Visit

On Monday, January 18, I had the pleasure of paying a formal visit to the stated communication of Lake Harriet Lodge. There was a very nice contingency present, and I made a brief presentation of the early history of the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

I was very impressed with the improvements to the lodge room since my last visit. New carpeting, including a checkerboard around the altar, with a red border, made a very nice impression. (You can see a bit of it in the photo...)

Thank you to Worshipful Master Brad Skeel and the brothers of Lake Harriet Lodge for a very nice evening of fellowship and education!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Brief Apology

Those of you who follow my blog routinely (and a few have told me that you do...), I apologize for being so slow in getting posts on in the past week. Work and Masonry caught up with me and I just didn't take the time.

Hereafter, you'll find a few blogs on the great One-Day to Masonry class last Saturday. I'll blog about my visits to Lake Harriet, Corinthian and Minneapolis 19 lodges this week in the next day or two.

Also, if you're reading this early on Friday morning, and you can get WCCO radio (Twin Cities AM830), you might turn it on and catch the broadcast from Dave Lee's Gutter Bowl. The Grand Lodge will have a team participating, and I hope there is an opportunity to say a few words about Freemasonry on the air. This is a fundraising event for the Amplatz Children's Hospital at the University of Minnesota. You may recall we dedicated the cornerstone for this building last October.

One-Day Class - 3rd Degree

Peter Van Osdal and Bill Ross put together a stellar cast for the Master Mason Degree at the One-Day to Masonry January 16.

Special thanks to John Gann, who gave such an inspiring rendition of the third section of the lecture for this degree that I wanted to stand up and cheer! Thanks to all who made this degree, and the entire day, such a great experience.

I had the privilege of addressing our new brothers at the close of the day, and remained in the East to close the lodge in due form. It was a great thrill!

As I said to the new brothers, be bold in inviting yourselves to your lodge's communications and activities. And, to the leadership of the new brothers' lodges, be sure to invite our new brothers to your next communication and make them really feel a part of our great organization!

One-Day Class - 2nd Degree

St Paul Masons provided the cast for the Fellowcraft Degree for the One-Day Class. Under the direction of Brian Beermann and Donald Olsen, the work was just terrific!

RWB Beermann did double duty, walking the candidates up a flight of winding stairs into a place representing the Middle Chamber. In addition to being the Junior Grand Warden, RWB Brian is Custodian for Southeast Minnesota.

One-Day Class - Lunch!

The Scottish Rite caterer and the staff from the Minneapolis Valley put out a great lunch for the cast, candidates and visitors at the One-Day Class. An open-face prime rib sandwich, with the fixin's!

A true testament to the cook - the room was pretty quiet during the first part of the lunch break! And, as you can see, there was a full house!

One-Day Class - 1st Degree

Metro West provided the cast for the Entered Apprentice Degree for the One-Day Class, and an excellent job was done by all.

Directors Ted Martz and James White put together a truly impressive degree to start the day.

I should not point out any one cast member, as all did a great job, but Brother Michael Bell really nailed the 3rd Section of the lecture - letter perfect. Brother Mike has been a member of Lebanon Lodge for less than a year!

One-Day Class

On Saturday, January 16, 40 candidates received the three degrees of Masonry in the Grand Master's One-Day Class.

It was a great day!

Grand Secretary Doug Campbell and Assistant Grand Secretary Gary Odegard had the paperwork in order and running smoothly. The members of the Minneapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite prepared a great setting for the ritual. The day was, in a word, AWESOME!

Congratulations to the 40 new Master Masons, and to the 24 lodges from around the State that gained one or more new brothers that day!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday

"I ask you to uphold the values of America and remember why so many have come here. We're in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith."

George W. Bush made these remarks in an address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001. His statement reaffirms that this is a country of diverse peoples and faiths. Delivered at a time when the fires at the World Trade Center were, literally, still burning, his words should reach through the intervening years to give us pause.

Masons should espouse that not only should all peoples be free from unfair treatment and unkind words because of their faith, they should be respected. Masonry requires that its members have a belief in a Supreme Being, and we guard jealously each man’s right to worship his God as he sees fit.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reflections of Being Master of the Lodge

25 years ago this month, I was installed Master of Sibley Lodge No. 209 in a public ceremony. I recall that my children didn’t have a real good idea what this Masonry thing was all about, but they found it highly amusing to see their Dad in a top hat!

My appointment to the progressive line that day was an insurance agent who had recently moved to town and affiliated with Sibley Lodge. I now refer to him as Most Worshipful Brother and Past Grand Master, Steven R. Johnson.

I have had the opportunity to install officers at several lodges over the past couple of years. It is so very meaningful to hear, again, the admonitions and responsibilities shared with the incoming Master of the lodge. I have commented on them before in this blog, but would again encourage you to take another look at them. They can be found in the Masonic Manual.

Becoming involved in Masonry on the Grand Lodge level has been an experience that I treasure. The opportunities I have had to serve the Craft have been most gratifying. The one part of the experience that is not entirely positive, however, is that it has taken me away from participating completely in the activities of my home lodge.

In just a few weeks, my obligations as Grand Master will come to an end. While I know I will miss many, many of the opportunities I have enjoyed in this office, I am looking forward to serving my local lodge and local community once again.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Minnesota River Valley Table Lodge

Patty and I were most pleased to again attend the Minnesota River Valley table lodge in Montgomery last night. This was, I think, the third such table lodge I have attended, and Patty and I look forward to it every year.

This year was no exception. Good food, good fellowship and a very appropriate message by PGM Neil Neddermeyer. Lodge awards, recognition of new Masons (and there were several in the audience) and just an all-around good time.

Thanks, MRV members, for the invitation and great reception!

Minnesota River Valley Hiram Award

During the Minnesota River Valley Lodge table lodge last night, the 2009 Hiram Award was presented to Worshipful Brother Don Conn, in recognition of years of dedicated service to the Craft and his lodge.

In typical fashion, Don did not talk about his accomplishments, but rather how excited he is to be a member of such and active and growing lodge.

Congratulations, Don and Judy. We look forward to many years of Masonic fellowship!

Wedding Bells!

At 12:30, he was installed as Marshal of Lebanon Lodge. At 1:30, he said "I do" to the love of his life and was married! I am most honored to have been invited to participate in the exchange of vows and to solemnize the marriage of Brother Jeremiah Spear and Angela Kopp!

Family and friends, and a room full of Brothers, were there to witness the happy event. A reception and dinner followed in the Fellowship Hall.

Congratulations to Jeremiah and Angela! Best wishes for years and years of married bliss!

Installation of Lebanon Lodge Officers

Deputy Grand Master John Cook installed the officers of Lebanon Lodge yesterday in front of a packed house at the Lake Harriet Masonic Center.

I was privileged to read the charge to the Master and Wardens.

Congratulations to Worshipful Master Philip Carlson and the other officers of Lebanon Lodge!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Delta Lodge Installation for Tonight Postponed

I just talked to District Representative Doug Pamp, who told me weather conditions in Southwest Minnesota have prompted the officers of Delta Lodge to put off the installation of officers.

I'm not totally disappointed: In addition to poor travel conditions, I have a case that will not finish today in time for me to have made the installation. I'm hoping the rescheduled time can fit into my schedule!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Installation of Officers at Sibley Lodge

Last night, I was privileged to be the Installing Master for the 2010 officers at my home lodge in Winthrop. These brothers will open Grand Lodge in St. Cloud for me on March 26.

One of the few downsides to being Grand Master is that I don't get to my own lodge on many occasions. Last night was a great night to be there and catch up on what's happening locally.

And, there is a lot! We have three Entered Apprentices working on their proficiency. A fourth candidate is scheduled to be initiated January 19 - along with perhaps two candidates from Charity Lodge in New Ulm! Work is being done to improve the kitchen and more work is planned for the dining area.

Congratulations, Worshipful Master Kevin Pioske, and the officers elect and appointed for 2010 for Sibley Lodge No. 209, Winthrop Minnesota!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday

The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor's shortcomings as he is of his own. – Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer has also written that we really do love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That is, if we are intolerant and dislike our neighbors, we really don't much like who we are.

Masons, it is said, are good men, striving to become better. We, each one of us, falls short of the mark - whether that mark be set by our faith or our conscience. But we keep striving.

Today, let's cut ourselves a little slack. We will fall short today, but we'll get up and try our best tomorrow. And, while we're at it, let's cut our neighbor a little slack today, too. Maybe he is falling short of his mark today. Maybe all it takes is a kind word or a word of encouragement to help him rise and strive again.

Maybe all it requires is a little tolerance.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

40th Wedding Anniversary

Forty years ago this day, January 3, 1970, I stood next to the woman (not much more than a girl then) that I love and in front of family and friends, promised to love, honor and cherish her all the days of my life.

So far, so good…

What’s the secret in a marriage that has lasted four decades? Well, like Masonry, the secret is: There is no secret. It takes love, of course, but also patience and forbearance and an attitude that allows you to overlook the (almost certainly unintentional) slights and relish the wonder of a life together.

Those of you who know Patty, know that I have been most fortunate that she chose me for her spouse. It’s not only been this year that she’s had to put up with my crazy schedule – though this year has been exceedingly busy.

A successful marriage: Love. Hard work. Forbearance. And perhaps more important than the rest, the Blessings of God and good fortune.

Thank you, Patty, for loving me even when – especially when – I am not very loveable. I look forward to several more decades loving you if God will grant us the time and His continued Blessings.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years Wedding at Harrington Mansion

I was able to do double-duty to start the new year - both as Grand Master and as District Judge. I was privileged to preside at the wedding of Brother Tim Jirak and his love, Jami Schaffer.

The setting was the staircase of the Harrington Mansion at Zuhrah Shrine Center. A brief ceremony in the lodge room of Minneapolis No. 19 followed, and then a very nice reception.

Best wishes to Tim and Jami, and their daughters, for a long and prosperous life together!

New Years at Zuhrah

My son, Brother Mark McCarthy, joined me at the annual Zuhrah Shrine Center New Years Day brunch. As always, the food, fellowship and entertainment was great!

Thank you Potentate Jeff Lewis, and the Nobles of Zuhrah, for a great tradition.

(Thanks to Noble Thomas Smith for the photos!)

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Mission Statement for the New Year

Instead of the usual ritual of making New Year’s Resolutions, consider this day putting your “Personal Mission Statement” to paper (or your hard drive). A personal mission statement should encapsulate those principles which are the most important to you. As an example, Brother Chuck Nettestad (publisher of the weekly Alexandria (MN) Peace Newsletter) prepared this mission statement last year. With his permission (and his comments after) I share it with you.

Now, where shall I start on MY mission statement? …

Personal Mission Statement

I will live my life with honesty and integrity.

I will strive to keep myself; physically, mentally and spiritually fit.

I will treat people I meet with dignity and respect.

The priorities in my life will be God, family, and duty to my fellow man.

and I will strive to humbly serve my Lord and Creator.

That is it....if you already have a personal mission and wouldn’t mind sharing it with me...please send me a copy. If you make a new one and want to share it please send it to me.

(That e-mail address is also where you can write to sign up for Brother Nettestad’s weekly message.)

A Little Bit Short ...

Looks like I'll be donning the cardinal and gold of the Iowa State Cyclones, as our Golden Gophers came up just a bit short.

MWB Craig, I will keep my word as a Mason and will suffer through a photo with the garb that you will get to me.

My Cyclone fan of a grandson, Phillip, will LOVE it!

Get you in 2010!