The Grand Master’s April Address to the Craft

Greeting to all my Brothers,

    So much has happened since I last wrote this column. COVID-19 was a concern for many last month, but no widespread warnings in our own backyard. We prayed for those in China, in Italy, in Spain and elsewhere, and prayed that we would be able to avoid those extreme conditions ourselves. I’m referring to our times now as the “Un” days. You see it in the news every day, these days are “unprecedented”, “uncertain”, “unexpected”, “unparalleled”, “unforeseen” and the synonyms used go on and on. I saw a reference to our ritual that says it all: “Freemasonry, notwithstanding has still survived”, and we will survive, with a better understanding what is meant by Brotherly Love. I received my first email about a Brother in Wisconsin with the virus, and on a ventilator. I pray for his health, for all our brothers and their families, and all in our communities.

    We are going into our 4th week of suspended Masonic meetings and events since my order on March 13, our lodge buildings are quiet, but the spirit of Masonry still thrives in Wisconsin. I see it in emails, I see it in postings on Facebook, especially with the virtual 9 p.m. toasts. Just as you, I miss the lodge meetings and all our events planned, including our Grand Lodge events like the Combined Table Lodge with our Prince Hall Brothers, our Arizona trip to visit our retired Brothers and widows, our Day of Light events in Eau Claire and Sturgeon Bay, the Testimonial dinner, and now even the Annual Communication as we have known it in the past. Our Annual Communication has been down scaled to a one-day, virtual format and more details are in this issue of the journal.  We are all looking forward to an eventual return to meetings, probably with some fervency and zeal. I’ve been watching for any bit of good news about a return to normal, but so far none, and I don’t expect any through the month of May. We’ll heed the government warnings, especially about convening too quickly before the declining part of the virus curve.

    We did have a bit of normalcy at the beginning of March, and I cherish the lodge visits I made then. We were able to complete one Masonic Day of Light event in Racine on March 7. Although a smaller set of candidates, the event was no less impactful. The logistics of the event were executed perfectly, the ritual was excellent (not perfect, remember we can only strive for perfection), and we had a batch of tired and smiling new Brothers when we completed the day. Thanks go out to Worshipful Brothers Denny “Crash” Krahn, Chris Luedke and Pat Cholka and the many other volunteers including the Grand Bethel, degree casts and the mentors who helped make the day a success.

    I’m encouraged by the lodges and the formation of their Wellness Committees, not only calling brothers, but going beyond, delivering meals and groceries to our widows and Brothers in need. Without the normal cadence of meetings, we are but left with the essence of Freemasonry and care for our Brothers. There could be no better Forget-me-not theme for this month.

    The nation, and Wisconsin specifically, are in constant need of a blood supply. If you feel safe in doing so, consider visiting the Red Cross or other organization to donate blood. If you have recovered from the COVID-19 virus, please give plasma for the continuing research in using antibodies to help others in dire circumstances with little hope. If you know others that have recovered, encourage them as well.

    I really shouldn’t say that I hope to see you at one of my upcoming visits anymore given present circumstances.  It is likely that I’ll be a “Past” when next I see you at an event, whenever they can start again, but it won’t make it any less a pleasure, and more likely a blessing for me to see you again. I’m proud to be a Freemason and I hope you are too. Be safe, be healthy, and look out for our Brothers and their families.

Faithfully yours,

Bob Strader

Grand Master