Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Masonic Charities Breakfast

The Saturday morning breakfast was sponsored this year by Minnesota Masonic Charities. We had a great meal of steak and eggs, and were treated to a wonderful video on the work of Masonic Charities produced by Grand Chaplain Steve Johnson.

After the video reviewing the programs of Charities, the Annual Giving Campaign was introduced. This should be a great way for Masons and others of any giving level to contribute to the work of Masonic Charities.

Daniel Carter Beard Award

The Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award is an honor due to members of the Masonic Lodge who act as role models and provide dedicated service to the young men in the BSA. The Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Award not only supports the Masonic relationship through the man who brought Scouting to America, but proclaims the integrity of the recipient who is honored by receiving the award.

Recipients are presented a medallion on a neck ribbon, a photo of which is shown.

This year, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota was privileged to present this prestigious award to two Minnesota Masons, Kirby Olson and Wayne Butt.

Congratulations, Brothers Mayer and Olson. You do our Fraternity proud!

Sibley Lodge No. 209 Opens Grand Lodge

It is a proud moment for a Grand Master when the brothers from his home lodge open the tyled session of the annual communication. This year, Worshipful Master Kevin Pioske and the officers of Sibley Lodge performed that duty.

These fine brothers have given me tons of support this year, and for the entire journey to become Grand Master. Just because I can't say thank you enough doesn't mean that I won't say it again:

THANK YOU, Brothers of Sibley Lodge! Job well done!

A Surprise from the DeMolay Master Councilor

DeMolay Master Councilor Talon Beck brought greetings from our young men's organization. It is so very inspiring to see how these youth leaders are so poised to bring greetings to such large groups.

Talon had a big surprise, too! At the conclusion of his remarks, he pulled a Petition for Degrees from his pocket and asked me to be his second line signer! He then met representatives from Garnett Lodge at the altar and delivered the signed petition to them.

I do hope my schedule permits me to attend at least one of Talon's degrees. He is a fine young man, and will make an outstanding Mason.

Greetings from Job's Daughters

One of the traditions of the public opening of Grand Lodge is to hear greetings from the Honored Queen and Miss Minnesota Job's Daughters. This year, those greetings were brought by Emily Niederhaus and Kelsey Wyman.

The photo of these lovely ladies was taken the night before, at the Grand Master's gathering.

Debt Paid

You may recall that MWB Craig Hummel, Grand Lodge of Iowa, challenged me to a bet on the Insight Bowl - Iowa State vs. the University of Minnesota. You may also recall that the loser was to don the school colors of the winner. And finally, you will recall that our Golden Gophers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory ...

It had been a long time, and I hadn't heard from MWB Craig, so I hoped he had forgotten the bet. "Vain hope." When invited to bring greetings from the Masons of Iowa during the public opening, he produced a jersey and quite an unusual hat for me to wear.

I suffered through perhaps 15 minutes with the ISU colors. But, when it was time to introduce Dr. Yee from the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, I just couldn't wear it any more.

Fortunately, I just happened to have some Maroon and Gold for the occasion...

50-Year Award

I have commented before on the thrill to be present when a Mason receives a longevity award. At the Annual Communication, I had the pleasure to arrange for the presentation of a 50-year award to Past Grand Master Ralph Hultquist and a 25-year award to his son, John Hultquist.

Shown in the photo are District Representative Vern Schwalbe, yours truly, PGM Ralph and John.

It's pretty unusual to make such presentations at an annual communication, but for Masons who have contributed so mightily to our Grand Lodge, it is only appropriate.

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Not Over Till the Paperwork is Done

And I'm having trouble finding time to blog about all the truly wonderful things at the 157th Annual Communication.

Be assured, John L. Cook, Jr. was installed as Grand Master last Saturday afternoon. It was a great ceremony, and I will blog about it soon.

Thanks for your patience. I expect to have the blogs posted this week, and then this site will likely go inactive. I'll keep you posted ...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Annual Communication Public Opening

The 157th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota started Friday morning with a public opening. The Heroes of '76 presented the colors and tributes were given to the flags of the United States and Canada.

There were presentations by Eastern Star, Job's Daughters and DeMolay. Dr. Douglas Yee made a very interesting presentation on behalf of the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. Grand Orator Bill Callister gave the oration, which came straight from the heart.

It was a great start to the communication. I'll make a couple more blog entries on some of the special things that happened during the opening.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hospitality Room

The Grand Master has traditionally hosted a hospitality room, where guests and friends are able to mingle and continue the fellowship of the evening.

This year, the Kelly Inn has a new space for hospitality, and it worked very well.

Shown are the crack waitstaff for the event, Mark McCarthy, his sister, Carrie Zak, and brothers-in-law Chuck Kelsey and Rick Zak.

In Ireland, the pubs close at 11:00. That's when I left, but the conviviality continued....

Grand Master's Gathering

Thursday evening, the festivities of the Annual Communication were kicked off with the Grand Master's Gathering. This year, it was an informal mingling at the Herberger Room and Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame at the St Cloud Civic Center.

Patty and I were very happy to mingle with brothers and guests. There was good food and lots of good conversation and fellowship.

This bodes well for the communication....!

Checking In

I spent most of Thursday with luggage carts at the Kelly Inn in St Cloud. It's really here! Early birds and distinguished guests arrived and were greeted by PGM J.V. Christianson, Julie Neddermeyer, PGM Neil Neddermeyer and Assistant Grand Secretary, Gary Odegard.

The truck is unloaded. Hundreds of brothers and guests will, in just a few hours, assemble in the St Cloud Civic Center for the public opening.

So what am I doing putting up this blog??? I have WORK to do!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Counting Down

The Deputy Grand Master will tell you that it was only hours after my installation as Grand Master last year that I announced the number of weeks, days and hours until my term expired.

It is now down to hours.

I'm almost packed. The speeches are almost done. The agenda is almost finalized. But, ready or not, the kick-off to the annual communication is less than 24 hours away.

Patty and I will be heading to St Cloud tomorrow morning. Doug Campbell and Gary Odegard will be loading the truck at the Grand Lodge office and heading north themselves. Tomorrow will be a day of frantic activity and of asking over and again, "What else did I forget?"

But Friday morning, the public opening of the Annual Communication will begin at 9:00 a.m. and all will be well. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it)

I hope to see many of you in St. Cloud on Friday. Until then - actually, until Saturday afternoon at 1:00 - remember me in your applications to Deity.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

George Washington's Gavel

In the mail Monday came an envelope from the George Washington National Masonic Memorial with an 8 x 10 photo of me and John Cook with the gavel and trowel that George Washington used to lay the cornerstone of the United States Capitol, as well as the Bible upon Washington took his Masonic obligations.

It was truly humbling to be so near items that were handled by the Father of our Country, and used by him as a Mason.

Meeting many Minnesota Masons with many wonderful histories was, without a doubt, the pinnacle of being Grand Master this year. But after those friendships, standing with Deputy Grand Master Cook behind these artifacts of United States and Masonic History has to rank up there with the most memorable experiences of this year.

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday

This is the last Tuesday of my term as Grand Master. There is only one Masonic event left on my calendar - the 157th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

I intend to stop blogging on this site within a few days of the installation of John L. Cook, Jr., as Grand Master of Minnesota Masons. I am, however, trying to decide just how to continue Tolerance Awareness Tuesday, as this poor world needs tolerance more than ever before.

Masonry should be the place to find the examples of practicing tolerance. It is said that the only place where a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim can meet in peace in the Middle East is in our lodge rooms. The Masonic value of tolerance MUST be maintained and promoted. It's good for Masonry, and it's good for our homes, communities, country and world.

As Brother Glenn Kiecker would say, "Tolerance: The Crown Jewel of Masonry"!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Remembrance and Renewal

The Scottish Rite bodies have a very touching tradition of gathering to remember their brothers who have transferred their membership to the Celestial Lodge above, and to renew their commitment to honor those departed brothers by continuing to strive to live the Masonic ideals.

Saturday evening, the Minneapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite performed that duty. We started with a sumptuous meal. Then we adjourned to the auditorium for the service. It was a most impressive ceremony, honoring 83 Scottish Rite Masons from the Minneapolis Valley that failed to answer to call of the roll in 2009.

MWB Terry Tilton delivered a wonderful and thought-provoking address. The names of the 83 deceased brothers was read, including my friend, David Caufman of LeSueur. A rose was laid on the altar and a candle lit, reminding us to carry their light with us as we perform our labors.

This was the last Masonic event for Patty and me before Grand Lodge. What a fitting way to end the Masonic year.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Metro East Table Lodge

Patty and I, along with daughter Carrie, son-in-law, Brother Rick and Noah and Blake, attended the Metro East Table Lodge at the St Paul Masonic Center Friday night. This is a terrific event, meant to celebrate the completion of the Grand Master's term. Friday night, it did not disappoint.

A contingent from Sibley Lodge made the trip for the dinner: PM Ross Arneson and his wife Sheila, Grand Tyler Pete Schue, Grand Standard Bearer, Steve Saxton and WM Kevin Pioske. Thanks for coming in!

Area Deputy Ken White presided as Master of the Table Lodge, and everyone had a great time. MWB Chuck Luman gave a terrific talk on Masonry, using Abraham Lincoln as an example to emulate.

I was short one Irish joke for the evening, when Blake came through for me! What do you get when you cross a four-leaf clover and poison ivy? A rash of good luck!! Thanks, Blake!

This is the last big event on the calendar before the annual communication. It's been a terrific year. I look forward to thanking everyone, in person, at the Grand Lodge communication Friday and Saturday.

Friday, March 19, 2010

26th Degree

Thursday night I participated in the 26th Degree at the Minneapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite. It is a very nice degree that I have blogged about previously.

The photo shows most of the cast, in costume, before hitting the footlights.

Masonry in the appendant bodies is a great experience to obtain "more light in Masonry." The Scottish Rite, York Rite and Shrine each offer opportunities for more fellowship and more education.

I'll be having a brief presentation on appendant body Masonry during the Annual Communication - starting in only seven days!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St Patrick's Eve at Sibley Lodge

It was my turn to serve supper at Sibley Lodge last night, along with Brothers Don Lannoye and Kelly Pierson. I whipped up some corn beef and cabbage soup and my brothers brought pulled pork sandwiches and dessert.

As you can see from the intensity of the diners, the meal was greatly appreciated!

After the communication, the brothers organized tickets for the Sibley Lodge Spaghetti Supper, held in conjunction with Winthrop's Grackle Days, April 9.

When I next visit my home lodge, I'll be PGM (that's "Prestige Gone, Man") Tom McCarthy. The next time I see those brothers in a group, though, will be a week from Friday, when they open the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota at the St. Cloud Civic Center!

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Ireland is a land of about 6.2 million inhabitants, counting the population of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

It is estimated that there are over 70 million persons of Irish descent that live outside of the island.

I am one of them.

My great-great grandfather, John McCarthy, left Ireland in the third year of the famine – about 1849. It was said the good farmers hung on for that long.

March 17 is the feast day of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. It is said that everyone is Irish on March 17!

Ireland is a beautiful land. My grandfather, and all the others who left during the Diaspora, were truly desperate. Only in recent times has prosperity begun to come to Ireland, now sometimes called the “Celtic Tiger” of the European economy. I saw that economy first hand, about a dozen years ago, when the photo of me in front of the McCarthy Homestead (aka, Blarney Castle) was taken by my brother.

So, when we pause to listen to an Irish tune, or raise a glass for St. Patrick today, let’s also pause to consider the hardships endured shared by all immigrants coming to a new land, and give thanks that they came to such a wonderful country – the United States of America.

And, let us close with some lines from the Great Saint himself: “Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity [Ireland]. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Good Day in Court

Most of you know that in my "other life", I am a District Court Judge. Most every case I handle has one party leaving quite unhappy - often both leave unhappy.

Adoptions are the happy exception to that rule. Plus, the new parents almost always bring a camera along!

These two adoptive parents were first foster parents. The little girl's natural father was terminally ill, and her mother was in prison when the parents took her in, just days after she was born. Now, a year later, she is a permanent part of their family. (I did obtain their permission to post this photo on my blog.)

We owe so much to foster parents. They provide shelter for our most vulnerable citizens. The need is always greater than the foster families available.

When I think of foster parents, I am reminded of this Irish blessing:

May God grant you many years to live,
For sure he must be knowing
The earth has angels all to few
And Heaven is overflowing.

Thank you, to these wonderful new parents, and to all the foster parents I have had the honor to know in my years as a judge and attorney.

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday

Perhaps one of the reasons I find the Masonic value of Tolerance so important in my life is because the land of my father's people has suffered from intolerance for centuries.

Ireland, the land of St. Patrick and thus mainly of Catholicism, has been the scene of wars and battles between Catholics and Protestants since the time of King Henry VIII.

More recently, "The Troubles" have plagued Northern Ireland. Sectarian battles were openly waged in the memory of many of us. The "Good Friday" agreement, signed on Good Friday, 1998, was a huge step to limit the violence that had plagued Northern Ireland for generations.

The murals show the depth of the passion of each side during the height of "The Troubles".

Ireland is the home of the second oldest Grand Lodge in the world. Isn't it a shame that the tenets practiced in the lodge halls could not find their way into everyday life to stop the violence and the killings?

Let's pledge that, in our little corners of the world, we will not permit intolerance to fester and grow. It really is our duty as Masons.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Plymouth Lodge 125th Anniversary

Patty and I attended the Plymouth Lodge No. 160 125th Anniversary Dinner Sunday evening. It was a very nice evening. The Scottish Rite dining hall was decorated very nicely and the food was terrific.

After dinner, the Hiram Award was presented to Worshipful Brother Bob Armagost. His most impressive Masonic resume took several minutes to read - and, I'm told, was the abbreviated version! Congratulations, Brother Bob!

Dr. Phil McGlave of the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota gave a great talk on the history of the Mason's fight against cancer at the University of Minnesota, dating back over a half-century.

I then had the opportunity to make a few comments and to present a commemorative plaque to Worshipful Master Al Niederhaus and Plymouth Lodge.

As I come to the end of the year as Grand Master, events like this become even more memorable. Thank you, Plymouth Lodge, for allowing me to be part of this most special occasion.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Corporate Board

The business of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota is conducted by the Corporate Board, which are the Grand Deacons, Wardens, Deputy Grand Master, the two immediate Past Grand Masters and the Grand Master, who acts as the Chair of the Board. The Secretary, Treasurer and Stewards are ex officio members of the board.

The Board meets in alternating months throughout the year. Saturday marked the last Corporate Board meeting prior to the Annual Communication, and thus, the last Corporate Board meeting that I will chair.

I have had the privilege of serving with phenomenal Masons on this Board. The elected and appointed officers are, and have been, top notch. Several one-year appointees have stepped up and contributed mightily to the operations of this body, including the Grand LEO, Ed Halpaus, who has given good and timely advice to the board for years; Grand Chaplain Steve Johnson and Grand Sword Bearer, Lew Price. I am glad that I will remain on the Board for two more years. Thank you, Brothers, for this privilege to serve.

I left the Board with this Irish Blessing, and I leave it for you all:

May your days be many
And your troubles be few.
May all God's Blessings
Descend on you.
May peace be within you
May your heart be strong.
May you find what you're seeking
Wherever you roam.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grand Lodge Office

It's a busy time in the Grand Lodge office these days. Most of the Lodge reports are in (if your lodge's is not, PLEASE help out Doug and Gary and get them in right away!) and preparations are well under way for the Annual Communication.

As Grand Master, and as members of the Craft in Minnesota, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Grand Secretary Doug Campbell (shown multi-tasking, as usual) and Assistant Grand Secretary Gary Odegard. We don't see most of the work they do, but they make our operations run very smoothly.

Thanks, Doug and Gary! We'll thank you in person at the Annual Communciation, March 26 - 27, in St Cloud!

Lebanon Lodge Visit

I visited Lebanon Lodge in Shakopee Tuesday night. We had a nice meal at the restaurant down the block, I was received in form and there was a great lodge education presentation.
The highlight of the evening, however, was when the Master asked me to announce that the Hiram Award would be presented to WB Paul Walker. I think you could have knocked WB Paul over with a feather! I hope my schedule permits me to attend the award ceremony.

Thanks to the brothers of Lebanon Lodge for once again making me feel most welcome and at home.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Where's Minnesota's Grand Master?

It's a little like "Where's Waldo", except I'm not wearing the distinctive hat!

In 1956, Life Magazine ran a story on the Masons. The cover was a photo of the Grand Masters assembled on the steps of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.

Last month, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Memorial, that scene was recreated. I had the pleasure of standing with my colleagues from across the nation for the reenactment photograph!

If you click on the photo to make it bigger, and look about five rows down from the tip of the pyramid, just left of center, you should be able to spot me!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grand Master's Calendar

Do you notice the Grand Master's Calendar on the left side of this blog page? For the first time, it shows the 157th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

I guess it really is coming to a close!

Please know that our meal orders must be in by this weekend. If you have not yet sent in your reservations to the Grand Lodge Secretary, do it NOW! (If you need a reservation form, or have questions about the Annual Communication, call the Grand Lodge office.)

I'm looking forward to seeing each of you in St Cloud - in less than three weeks!

Excelsior Lodge Hiram Award

For the first time in the history of Excelsior Lodge, a Hiram Award was made. And it could not have been presented to a more deserving brother - Past Master Richard McGinnis.

Patty and I were pleased to attend, and I had the pleasure of assisting with the presentation. Dick and Bonnie were most appreciative of the friends, brothers and sisters that took time out on a Sunday afternoon to drop by and give them best wishes.

Dick was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in 1985 - by his son! Since then, he has dug right in and is most active in Scottish Rite, York Rite and Shrine. He is an excellent ritualist and has taken many rolls in Excelsior Lodge as well as Scottish Rite degrees.

In his comments, WB Dick admitted to only one regret in his Masonic career - that it did not start earlier. How many times have we heard that?

Congratulations, Dick and Bonnie. Take the rest of the night off and enjoy the honor!


I broke away from the Philalethes Forum Saturday morning to take care of some business at the Grand Lodge office, and stumbled on a meeting of the Dan Patch Masonic Club at the Masonic Home. Gary Bell presented a program on the Masonic Historical Society, and led the brothers present on a tour of the lower level storage area where many treasures are kept. I was sorry to have missed the first part of his presentation, and sorrier still that I couldn't take the tour.

The Dan Patch Club is a great time. Good coffee, donuts, education, and most of all, good fellowship. If you have a chance, be sure to stop by the Masonic Home for one of their Saturday morning meetings. You'll be glad you did!