Many people see our world being a vast wasteland of negativity and defamation. It is within the words we memorize and speak where it was realized long ago that we live in troubled times where people disregard the fact that our virtues which we live by are what make us better young men. With all the technology in our grasp, one would think we’d use it all for good. That we would be able to extend our knowledge out to the world where we could spread the wonderful nature of DeMolay. But we, as a society, have yet to put forth our combined efforts against intolerance and debauchery against faith. If we as DeMolays do not wake up each and every day and live our lives as good, wholesome young men in behalf of the teachings of our Order - if we do not translate the lessons we have learned into a service amongst our community, then our world will become a darker place.
We must rise against the hatred which is bred through the fallacies spread throughout our lands. There is nothing we can’t do together, but we must stay true to one another and to our words. The most intimate aspect of DeMolay is our Obligations - if we do not live by our promises, if we betray our brethren and the trust they hold dear to us, then what are we but a part of a burning world.
Be the beacon in the darkness, be the difference that this world deserves. Think twice before speaking once. The world is at our fingertips - literally - and all I see is negativity which spoils the pureness of our teachings. Do not go forth without accepting the purpose you have been given through DeMolay. Extend the hand to any willing young man for he will be the future of DeMolay, and he will have fulfilled your purpose. Stay true to the Obligations we have assumed and profess the virtues which make this life brighter. DeMolay is the shield which protects us from this harmful world.
This month, my Chapter held a Joining Ceremony in order to revive our membership. Over the past 7 years, our Chapter has slowly shrunk in size and participation; this has been a depressing fact that I have lived with. I questioned what has changed, what I was doing wrong, or if I just wasn’t doing enough to hold the Chapter together. Each day I asked myself this question, I was drawing blanks and I just couldn’t understand what was happening.
I know that some of it had to do with people having majorities or moving away, but another key point was that we just weren’t recruiting the number of new young men that we should have been. So we took a look at our options: on one hand, we could do nothing and let it continually dwindle to nothing, or we can give the Joining Ceremony Program a try. So we chose to go on with the Program.
We were extremely lucky to have our Advisors support with planning and execution of the event. There were many people inside and out of our Chapter that helped make it a reality, and I am grateful for the assistance. Although we have a long road ahead of us, I am confident that we will continue to grow and prosper.
On March 15th, we executed our event. I didn’t think too much about it before hand, but when we arrived at our venue, I was excited but also nervous to see how it would play out, but thankfully, with great success, we had 30 young men become a part of our Brotherhood. I am hopeful that we will retain most of, if not all of these great individuals and their families, and that they bring their friends in to join with us.
I am just excited to see what the future holds for Mineral Area Chapter. We have a great Advisory Board helping us with the planning of various events in the upcoming months so I know it will be an incredible, successful, and fun time. I would like to thank all who helped with that day, and extend my assistance to any Chapter requiring it. I look forward to hearing from you!
Reaching out to Adults
A constant reinforcement in our organization is the importance of youth ran activities. However, though the youth remain the most important aspect, nothing gets done without the support of the adults behind the scenes. Having adults to provide rides, guidance, assistance, experience, and resources is an integral part of any successful chapter. Unfortunately, a lack of adult support plagues many chapters across the state, and in order to advance the interests of our order, this problem must be fixed. Getting adults is not always easy, for if it was, it wouldn’t be an issue, but here are some ways to attract adults who truly believe in our purposes.
While the most common adult to help is a Mason, mom, or dad, an adult volunteer can hold any occupation or relationship to the Order. Whether it be a neighbor, teacher, close family friend or relative; it could be any adult who has good character, an ability to work with kids, and has the drive to improve the Order. A great side-benefit to approaching adults who don’t have a strong relationship with the Order is that they can then bring a new set of prospects that you may never have known before.
There is no real strict way to approach an adult. Obviously, after they accept to become a part of the Order, they have to go through the D.A.D. (DeMolay Advisor Development) program and fill out paperwork, etc. I recommend wearing a Demolay T-shirt and going up to him or her, and just talk about the order. Explain things like: what it is all about, what we do, how an adult help out, reasons that our organization is different, and more. Then I recommend inviting him or her to an event or two so they can see it in action.
You never know if you may be introducing Demolay to the next Advisor of the Year or President of the Parents Club, so it’s important to express passion and be ever convincing to really sink them in. By building a larger Advisory Board and Parents Club, you establish a system that provides support and community. Each committed and passionate adult you allow into your Chapter, the closer your Chapter gets to being a true representation of the beauty of the Masonic Family.
As DeMolays, we are always being scrutinized by the outside world. One way to deal with this is to try to explain to strangers what our Order is in a cordial manner. When in public, and frankly any time you are around anyone, always be courteous and keep a civil tongue. First impressions are the most important, I know first hand how hard it is to change someone's mind after they have already made up an opinion about you.
Another example of the scrutiny of the public is how we dress. How you present yourself speaks volumes about you, and not only your actions, but your appearance is also very key to how people perceive you. When a person sees another for the first time, they are already judging them even before meeting them, They are mentally making up a profile based on their past experiences and that is how prejudice works. To use this in a positive manner, you need to dress appropriately for the event you are attending, and even if you are just wandering the streets of your city, you need to be presentable and not look like you threw on the first clothes you saw and walked out the door.
I know that, as guys, you don't like to admit that you care about your appearance, but let's be honest, we all have that little voice in our heads that tells us whether or not we would look good in “those” clothes. I personally take as little as five to ten minutes picking the clothes I am going to wear to school or even to a friends house - no matter where you are going you should always wear decent clothes. There is never a good time to wear offensive or vulgar clothing, such as a shirt with curses or provocative images on them. And if you are not sure how nice you should dress, always lean to the side of nicer clothes. You don’t have to work extremely hard to look nice, but make sure to have the right attitude and care about your appearance.
A Choice of Beginning
At one of Kirkwood Chapter's bi-weekly ritual practices, I was telling our newest members about the preceptors and I asked my Chapter what preceptors were “available” to learn. I told the members to try to learn the preceptors that we had fewer members practicing. One of our advisors, Dad Akers, stopped me. He said that the first preceptor learned by a Demolay should be chosen independently by the Demolay by what he is passionate about. Instantly, I thought of the first preceptor I learned and how important it was to me. The first preceptor chosen by a Demolay speaks volumes.
It is truly interesting to see which preceptor a Demolay chooses to be his first. Although all Demolays stand behind the values spoken in our preceptors, we may have one value that we hold above the rest. Personally, I have an affinity for Patriotism and the first preceptor I learned was 7th. Many people say that Patriotism is one of the harder preceptors to learn but I found it to be the easiest by far because I am far more passionate about it's values. Picking the preceptor that truly speaks to you is very important and choosing a preceptor that you are extremely passionate about can make the learning process much easier.
You can tell a lot about a Demolay by what he chooses as his first preceptor. If his first preceptor is Filial Love, he may have an exceptional love for family and his parents. If his first preceptor is Reverence for Sacred Things, his faith in God may have great importance to him.
The first preceptor a Demolay chooses is an important choice. It won't decide his future or cause any radical change in his lifestyle, but it will show what he is passionate about and reaffirm this value to him. A Demolays first preceptor is by far his most important.
Carondelet Joining Ceremony
March is“DeMolay Month” and the focus for the Chapters around the world is on community involvement and promoting DeMolay. In MIssouri we have had successful Joining Ceremonies around the state and have given the opportunity to young men to join our organization.
On Sunday, March 22nd, Carondelet DeMolay held their first Joining Ceremony at the Webster Groves Masonic Temple. There were 13 young men and their parents that attended that day and all were initiated into our great organization. The Chapter had the support of Webster Groves Lodge #84 in preparing for the day and refreshments were provided by the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, Mt. Olive Shrine No. 15.
Following the ceremony there were additional meetings with the parents and new DeMolays. There was a great interest and enthusiasm to learn more about the organization. The young men and their parents were invited back the next Wednesday for a game night. There was an immense amount of fellowship from this group right off the bat. It was truly amazing to watch how well they got along and I look forward to seeing this Chapter grow and flourish with these new young men.
As this year goes on, we have more Chapters hosting Joining Ceremonies and one by one, we will grow stronger as Chapters and as a Jurisdiction. I encourage each chapter to try this great membership program and if you are in assistance or questions, contact the State Master Councilor, Quentin Cockerham.
Education within DeMolay
DeMolay helps you in many things - one way of most importance is how it helps you in school. First, DeMolay teaches you responsibility. In school, you have to be responsible for your own work. This means it is your job to do the research and to get it done on time just like if you are in a committee and need to turn in a report. You also need to know the knowledge to do the homework just like when you have to memorize parts in Ritual or Opening and Closings. Continuously reading and studying your part in DeMolay will also help you memorize key facts in order to do well in school. You must study in order to receive a good grade on the tests in school. In DeMolay, you have to study for Initiations in order to do a good job and impress upon the candidates.
The Obligations you take when you enter DeMolay binds to try and be the best that you can be and to be a great citizen of your community. In school and DeMolay both, you cannot cheat or do wrongdoing without consequences and punishment. In fact, you must remain faithful in school, for if you are caught cheating, you will be expelled. Being in DeMolay helps you be a better person in school so that you can succeed more in life. The key to an easier lifestyle is education and DeMolay helps you be prepared for school.
The Proper Handshake
Today’s world is full of places to explore and barriers to break and make history. All of us have been that little boy watching the stars and wanted to walk on the moon - an accomplishment we thought could never be true. There is a way to fulfill the goals we have. There is a process in order to become successful and it starts with one step. It is the most important step in the process. Most people think of it as nothing, but without it, we would get nowhere…it’s the handshake. This small step opens many doors to a brighter future for each and every person. It lays down the bases for meeting new people and making better first impressions, and we rarely get to do those over again. We as DeMolays meet new people all the time, whether it is Masons or Masonic affiliated people or even new members and prospects.
The idea with a handshake is that a person can tell how the other person is. An example would be: a young man walks into an office for a job. He knows how important this is and wants to make a great first impression. He gives a firm and tight handshake - just enough to recognized and remembered. Now if this young man were to give a limp handshake with no confidence, it makes the interviewer think he doesn’t care. No one wants to shake the Grand Masters hand and not be remembered. It’s all in the handshake, to open doors and create connections, to make a better future for ourselves. Some may say this doesn’t matter in DeMolay, but the next time you give a handshake, pay attention on how the recipient reacts. With that in mind, keep in mind the confidence within that proper handshake.
Continuation of Obligatory Days
Remembrance day, the day we remember the founder of our great Fraternity, Dad Frank S. Land. This is personally my favorite day we do as a Chapter - just to remember a man who lived up greatly to his obligations and how he came up with the idea of DeMolay with nine young men. There are many things you can do for this day, such as giving a Hi Dad book to a school or library. One thing that my Chapter does is goes out to Mt. Moriah Cemetery to visit the grave of Dads Land and Marshall and then go on to do a DeMolay Degree inside the mausoleum in the cemetery that has a lodge room in it. This day should be observed closest to November 8th.
Next up is the Day of Comfort, which is a day that can be done between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are so many things you can do for this, such as make baskets for people that live in a nursing home, send holiday cards, collect can goods for a food pantry, or even work at a soup kitchen to help feed the homeless.
Patriots Day is one we should never forget in our entire lives as Americans. This day should be celebrated in February. Some of the things that a Chapter can do are sell flags, visit veterans, or even have a patriotic speaker, or even view a fireworks display.
Lastly, we have government day - this day is observed in the month of July. Many DeMolay Chapters in rural areas actually parade, which integrates DeMolay into the community. There are so many things as a Chapter that you can do, such as visit a State Capitol, visit a Congress Session, or even have a Congressman speak to the chapter.