One Day + Three Degrees = Some Great Masons

By Christopher Rooney |

This has been reproduced from the 2018 Summer Trowel Magazine. The author of this piece is Robert Jackson from Montgomery Lodge in Milford, MA.

Every man has their own journey, not just in Masonry, but in life. Our individuality is what makes us unique, by definition. We see that in the music we enjoy, the foods we find appetizing, what we find attractive or funny, and how we learn. Just last night, I had a conversation with some Brothers, and we were talking about how we learn ritual. Each of us had our own solution, but none of us were wrong. Thinking back to when I took my degrees, I’m amazed at how much I didn’t learn during those months. A spark was ignited for sure, but the fire was far from burning. It wasn’t until years later that the spark was fanned by a dear Brother, and the passion grew into a bonfire.

Where were you first prepared to be made for Mason? What does the answer to that question really mean? Think about your spouse, or your family. There is an inherent love in your heart. I don’t have to think about if I love my kids or my spouse… I just do! Even if they do something I’m not happy with, I still, and will always, love them.

In your own journey, how long did it really take you to grow that love for Masonry? Today, I’m amazed at how easy it is for some men to walk away from the Craft. They allow their status to go into suspension, or they demit. When I think back, however, I was almost one of them. If it wasn’t for my family connections, and a very dear Brother, I probably would have found myself an inactive Mason. It took years to build that fire for me, how long did it take for you? It doesn’t matter whether you received the degrees in a single day, or over the course of years, what matters is how that love and passion for the Craft sparked and grew into a shining beacon across a sea of darkness.

The One Day Class enables today’s busy man to ignite that flame of Freemasonry. You could argue that if they are that busy, how will they find time for the Craft? That argument, however, could be mades regardless of the method a man is raised – so it isn’t relevant.

My Brothers, look for that spark within your fellow man. Does he truly wish to improve himself through hard work and study? Does he truly want to be of service to his fellow man? Will he continue searching for more Light? Don’t let that spark die. There are many ways that spark can be initiated – from flint and steel to a butane torch. Our job is to fan those flames, and never let that flame die out.

Here are some quotes from some One Day Class Brothers, who’s flame burns brightly within our Fraternity:

George Hayeck
Framingham, MA

Before joining the fraternity
I was the Director of Operations for a medium sized building construction outfit. I wore many hats and worked many hours. I was very involved in the United States Power Squadron (a boating education group), and my wife and I had begun our journey as foster parents.

On the One Day Class:
It seemed like a quick easy way to become a Freemason. The alternative, presented as being a 3 month process or longer did not sit well with me at the time because of my very busy work and very much increasingly busy home-life schedule with foster children.

I did not know what was happening. Being in a balcony and seeing little of the One Day Class ritual, and not being required to attend Lodge of Instruction, it took me over 18 months to catch up and understand my own One Day Class degrees.

On continuing education:
Yes and no. My sponsor was great; he was at each meeting and introduced me to our Middlesex Lodge members, but I had to build my own way into the organization. Thankfully there were the older members who really took me under their wing and taught me, and moved me into the line to become Master.

Pat Emery
Shrewsbury, MA

Pat Emery, Shrewsbury, MA

Before joining the fraternity:
Prior to becoming a Mason, my career required an 60+ hr work week with extensive travel. My career direction shifted which allowed me the time to dedicate to giving back to others less fortunate.

On the One Day Class:
The One Day Event allowed me the point of entry that fit my schedule. Most businessmen have a difficult time maintaining a schedule planned out over 30 days. By having this one day event and providing the Instruction that same day, allowed me to successfully join and stay engaged.

The forum in which I was raised was a difficult venue in the sense that we were seated high in the balcony and it was difficult to see and hear. It was a process of consuming and then understanding each part of the ritual through several sessions at various Lodges.

On continuing education:
Within the two months, my mentor and I had visited 3 different Lodges within the District and attended a Table Lodge.

I fortunately had a mentor for life. He was key to keeping me engaged, went out of his way to introduce me everywhere we went, and continues to guide me. My mentor has created a circle of Masonic mentors for me that I can lean on.

I believe it is not how you were raised a Mason, but how you live your Life as a Mason. Did you join to be called a Mason or to be a Mason?

Robert Schremser
Dudley, MA

Bob Schremser, Dudley, MA

Before joining the fraternity:
Before entering Freemasonry, I spent the majority of my time working, usually 50 to 60 hours per week as a registered pharmacist in hospitals, consulting, and in retail pharmacies. With work and family commitments such as coaching my daughters’ sport teams, etc. I did enjoy fly fishing and kayaking when I was able to squeeze it into my schedule. I found little time for much else.

On the One Day Class:
I chose the One Day Class approach to joining the Craft as I felt that it would be the only way that my schedule would allow. I had the idea that joining Freemasonry would be very time consuming and that learning the ritual would be too difficult to work into my schedule. This misconception prevented me from joining for many years.

On continuing education:
After my One Day class, my sponsor and mentor insisted that I attend the Lodges of Instruction and other related programs.  I was inspired to become an active Mason because of this, with regrets that I didn’t do so years earlier.

I believe it was about 4 to 6 weeks before I was able to witness a first degree and then the following two degrees over the next few months. The ritual and the Masonic lessons that were taught truly impacted me.

I firmly believe that the One Day Class is the obvious alternative if a man is convinced that he will not join our fraternity because he does not have the time to commit to the traditional manner of joining. Whether traditional or one day, it is the Lodge, sponsors, or mentors duty to guide and make each new Mason feel wanted and to get him involved.

John VanKuilenburg
North Billerica, MA

Before joining the fraternity:
With three small children, my life was pretty busy. I was re-involved with Scouting as my son was in cub scouts and I was the den leader, so I was always planning the next meeting, field trips and monthly pack meetings along with the other meetings.

On the One Day Class:
My father-in-law, Wor. Arthur Papas tried to get me involved when I was dating my future wife back in 1987. The timing was never right. We were always traveling, and then came children. By the time he convinced me to join, he suggested that I do the upcoming one day class rather than be out at night and take three months.

The one day class was like drinking from a fire hose, and when I left there, I really wondered what I saw and understood none of it. Seeing it from the sidelines for the next dozen times allowed me to catch bits and bytes from each chair, and it began to make sense. To this day, when you listen intently, the tone and emphasis made by each line officer can truly provide a different perspective on the degree and what its true meaning might be.

On continuing education:
I was fortunate to have many mentors though the years, from Wor. Bob Bailey, RW Don Fudge, RW Roy Leone, Wor. James Burke, RW Terry Stephens, RW Dick Nicoll, RW Steve Burton and RW Mark Leonard. All of these men took the time to help mold me into the mason I am today. I was traveling nearly immediately, my first meeting after I signed the bylaws, I was placed in the Junior Steward’s chair, and the next week, I went to a lodge meeting at the Lowell Masonic Building.

Life is a series of choices; how and when you join any organization is up to the individual. Would I have joined with out the one day class? Yes. Would I change how I joined if I could do it over again? No. I have enjoyed my time in Freemasonry. I have met what I consider lifetime friends, and I would not want to lose that. You are always going to have naysayers and experts in every aspect of life, it is up to the individual to decide what is best for their situation.

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