Sunday, May 15, 2022

‘Observant Masonry coming to NY Royal Arch’


The 226th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the State of New York just concluded—oh, ten weeks ago. I’m finally getting to it.

M.E. Jason P. Sheridan is the new G.H.P. “Chapter Pride” is the motto for his term in office.

Inspired by “Pride in Freemasonry,” the byword of Grand Master James Sullivan during his term a decade ago (Jason was on his staff), Chapter Pride means to remind us to relish the Royal Arch experience.

“I believe strongly that as we lived through the pandemic, we reassessed those values that are most important to us,” said the new GHP in his speech. “It is no longer a constant work life that is key, but flexibility of work that allows us to live our lives to the fullest. Likewise, by focusing back on our individual chapters and feeling the sense of pride when we are with our companions is the most important thing I can communicate as part of my message for 2022. Let the focus be on our chapters.”

One component of Sheridan’s term, with education, communication, charity, and other essentials, is Observant Masonry. Jason is a longtime member of Ancient Chapter 1 in Manhattan, and he also is with Suwassett Chapter 195 on Long Island. Suwassett has adopted elements of the Observant model, and wouldn’t we all be wise to do the same?

Of course excellence cannot be imposed, but chapters desirous of enhancing their Masonic enlightenment now have a resource for guidance. The Observant Chapters Committee promulgates guidelines to follow. (There is a twelve-page booklet, but I don’t think I’m permitted to share the link.)

“Observant Masonry has become a familiar phrase, synonymous with excellence in ritual, education, and the formality of its events and festive boards,” Sheridan also said. “It will not be for every chapter, but there are a number of chapters I know very well that would appreciate this recognition from Grand Chapter.”

The installation of officers on March 5 in Utica was a memorable ceremony. It was fun seeing so many Masons again after prolonged absence caused by the pandemic. Jason was obligated with his hands upon a familiar looking VSL. It resembles the George Washington Inaugural Bible; it was published by the same printer as the Washington Bible, but this edition is improved with illustrations not included in its famous sibling.


The day before, I had the good luck to have arrived in time to attend the Order of AHPs. I received the Order in my own jurisdiction in 2006, but hadn’t seen it since. (It’s always scheduled on the Saturday of Masonic Week!) But that was very impressive and touching. My thanks to David D. Goodwin (speaking of Masonic Week), who happened to have been in front of me in the procession into the room, and who reminded me—I hadn’t a clue—of the pass. Whew!

The time and place of the next Grand Convocation will be March 9-11, 2023 in Binghamton. I hope to see you there.


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