Brethren, our ritual speaks to us about the universality of Freemasonry, Brotherly Love, and the Relief of Worthy Distressed Brother Masons, their Widows, and Orphans. However, what do we really know about those activities and what do we really practice?
Let me share a personal story. The U.S. Agency For International Development had a specialized program entitled “The Partners of the Alliance for Progress”. I was selected, as a US Peace Corps Volunteer, to become an experimental program official for the Central American Regional Offices in Guatemala. During that time, being in the capital of the country, I became a plural member of the oldest Masonic Lodge, Union Lodge No. 1 which was older than the Grand Lodge. Although I attended meetings in many of the lodges, Union Lodge was really the foreigner’s lodge because North Americans and Europeans founded it. Moreover, it also had many diplomats and military personnel in the lodge.
A new Master Mason, Bro. Douglas Galvez, had two young daughters, one of which was a baby. She contracted meningitis and encephalitis, could not eat on her own, was blind. The local doctors and hospitals were limited in what could be done for her and suggested that she be taken to the US for additional medical testing. Once Union Lodge knew this, I suggested that we look into what we might try through our Masonic Relations Committee at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center, in Chicago. One of the other local lodge members was a Ham Radio Operator so I was able to quickly contact my father and my lodge in Oak Park through another Ham Radio Operator in Chicago who was also a Mason.
Things moved very quickly with the hospital and all the documentation that had to be translated from Spanish to English and reviewed by the hospital staff. Our Illinois lodge brethren arranged with the brethren and government officials in Florida to immediately bring the Galvez Family through immigration and place them on a flight to Chicago. When the plane arrived the hospital ambulance was waiting and took them to Illinois Masonic. The family was taken care of through our Illinois brethren and the Masonic Relations Committee Director, at that time, Bro. Vernon Perfect. The family was here for several weeks and medical experts were brought in from everywhere because this was such an unusual medical case. It was even publicized in our Chicago newspapers about how the Masons were trying to save the baby, and there was even a visit by Ronald McDonald!
The care of the family through the ordeal was very expensive but didn’t cost the Galvez Family anything except the plane fare from Guatemala to the US. The family was overwhelmed with the generosity and care that was given to them.
This is one of many stories that you will be able to find in our Grand Chancellery Section at our website: ILMASON.ORG. You will also have the opportunity to share your story in our Blog and learn more ways to interact with other US and International recognized jurisdictions., including international inter-visitation and how to reach out to other jurisdictions as well as the process to receive international visitors in your Lodge.
Brethren we can all be proud to say that we all belong to an international fraternity. We have different cultural expressions but our values are the same. Let’s celebrate the beautiful values that unites us all, from different parts of the Globe to our closest neighbor. Let’s celebrate the Universality of Freemasonry!
R.W. Bro. John Loayza | Assistant Grand Chancellor | firstname.lastname@example.org