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giovedì 23 marzo 2017

Renfrew Masons reflect on past as Grand Lodge of England marks 300th anniversary

Celebration planned June 3

There are 65 men in Renfrew who are members of a fraternal organization who seek to improve themselves all based on the golden rule.
All this while quietly giving back to the community. 
The Renfrew Mason Lodge No. 122 is marking 157 years and the Grand Lodge of England is celebrating 300 years of existence. The local lodge has a number of special events planned for June 3 and encourages the community to get involved. 
Andrew Dick, who has been a Mason for three years, is the chair person of the 300th committee. He describes the organization as a fraternity of men who take good men and make them better with the key principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. 
“We are a brotherhood of men,” said Dick. “We like to do charity work that all goes on behind the scenes.” 
Keith Richard is the Worshipful Master of the Renfrew Lodge and has been a Mason for 34 years. 
“All the charity work is done internally,” said Richard. “We don’t solicit for charity.” 
In Renfrew they have helped with doctor recruitment donating $5,000 over five years and donated the same commitment to Hospice Renfrew. 
After its 125th anniversary the Renfrew Masons donated money to purchase an electronic pain-suppressing device for the physiotherapy department of the Renfrew Victoria Hospital. Locally they also hand out bursaries at to both Renfrew high schools for students not with the highest grade, but those who are in a financial need wanting to continue with post-secondary studies. 
The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario sponsors the MasoniChIP child identification program. And every year the Ontario Masons support the Canadian Blood Services donor program with about 35,000 donations. 
“We don’t do it to say Masons are doing it,” Dick stated. “We do it because we are a fraternity giving back.”
There are 3.2 million Masons across the world and more than 40,000 in Ontario, including those at the Renfrew Lodge, which was established one year after Renfrew was incorporated as a town. 
The lodge was constituted on Oct. 27, 1859 and the first meeting was held on Dec. 19, 1859. 
Next to the Sons of Temperance, it is the oldest fraternal organization in Renfrew. 
The first Worshipful Master was Abel Dowswell, who was also the first justice of the peace to be appointed in Arnprior. The lodge purchased its first set of collars and jewels for officers on March 6, 1860 for $37.75. 
Over the last 157 years their history books state a number of times they have had trouble maintaining membership, not uncommon with any service club. But at 65 members the group continues to grow in Renfrew. 
Jason Verbruggen has been a Mason for five years and is now the Junior Warden. He joined to become more active in the community. 
“That’s what being a Mason is all about,” said Verbruggen. “I wanted to get out and help. We are not a charity organization, we are a fraternity first and we have social events once a month. Because of it I’ve been more involved in the community.” 
Richard also joined for the fraternal and camaraderie bonds he has formed over the years but there is more to it for him as well. 
“I joined because I like to do charity work but I don’t look for recognition,” said Richard. “The challenge of making myself better, not only from the personal point of view but to help all members of society. It’s the satisfaction of being able help others for all the cause of good.” 
As the Master of the Lodge he has a unique role to play.
“I’m there to serve members of the lodge,” said Richard. “There is more personal satisfaction to make other men better because they want to be better. It’s working for the cause of good, our community and its members.” 
On the Mason’s website it states “Masonry is not a secret society … we’re happy to share what we know. Any information Masons can be found at a well-stocked bookstore or local library.” 
“We are not a secret society, but we are a society with secrets,” said Scott Rodden, Junior Deacon and four-year member. “I think there is a misconception that we are a secret society.” 
The Masonic Lodge in Renfrew, located on Raglan Street, is right downtown and well marked as are most lodges. The Masons own the building at 340 Raglan St. as the Renfrew Temple Group became landlords of the building in 1984, after renting or borrowing space for 125 years. 
The first lodge room was the upper part of Munro’s Hotel, in 1866 at the Temperance Hall, 1872 Muir China Hall, 1894 Barnet Block and O’Brien Block. 
To join you have to know a Mason. Richard notes there is no advertising involved when seeking new members. 
The website continues on how you know who are Masons “members often identify themselves by wearing Masonic jewelry.”
When asked about the jewelry all the men proudly presented their rings. 
“I discovered a Mason by his ring,” said Dick. “He pushed something across the table and I saw the ring and I said I had always wanted to be a Mason.” 
The Renfrew Masons will be officially marking the 300th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of England on June 3. They will be providing tours of the lodge and building and want the entire community to get involved. 
They are planning on a parade with other lodges and service groups (yet to be confirmed), free barbecue, bike rodeo, a show by Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, RY-J’s bouncy castle and more all free for the community. As well, they recently helped out at Superhero Fun Day and are set to volunteer with students to help clean up for Earth Day. 
For more information on the Masons check them out on their social media page on Facebook: Renfrew Freemasons-Lodge No. 122.