Masters Message January 2022
The Wardens and Officers of Saint Johns Lodge #1 Providence join me in wishing you and your families a happy, prosperous, and – more important now than ever – healthy New Year!
December was a busy month for the Lodge. Within the span of a week, SJ1P hosted our annual Holiday Party at Alpine Country Club, received the Most Worshipful Grand Master for his Official Visitation to the Metro District, and provided Holiday Baskets to one hundred needy families in our community. In addition, the lodge raised and donated $5,000 to the Dorcas International Institute for the resettlement of Afghan evacuees in RI, and we became annual Institutional Sponsors of the Handel and Haydn Musical Society in honor of the legacy of Thomas Smith Webb. What a way to end the year!
Under the care of Brother Junior Deacon and his team, our candidates have been working diligently on their Entered Apprentice Proficiency. They have made wonderful progress and will be demonstrating their work at January’s Communication. For our part, the Wardens, Officers, and I have been hard at work on the Fellow Craft Degree, which we will confer on our candidates that same evening. In particular, Brother Senior Deacon Jason Shealy is putting the finishing touches on the Middle Chamber lecture. He will be presenting the lecture in Long Form, which we have not seen at Saint John's in over a decade! I hope you will be there to support the candidates and your officers, and to witness Brother Shealy bring his months of dedicated labor to fruition.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, it is important that we face some difficult facts. The emergence of the Omicron variant and the recent surge in COVID cases in Rhode Island is a clear signal that this pandemic is not yet done with us. I am, like all of you, exhausted from two years of constant vigilance and caution. I am, like all of you, tired of the masking and distancing, and sanitizing.
Unfortunately, we cannot afford to let our guards down now.
From September through December, we have had at least three close calls where COVID has come uninvited into our Masonic spaces. In each of these instances, brothers with the symptomatic illness have come to Masonic events and mingled with their brethren without wearing masks.
To be clear, I do not fault these brothers, each of whom had anbreakthrough case after being fully vaccinated. By the grace of God, these close calls did not lead to further spread. However, they need to remind us of the insidiousness of this terrible disease. It wants you to become complacent.
Please take due notice: the Most Worshipful Grand Master has made it clear that an outbreak traced to any lodge in this Grand Jurisdiction will result in the immediate closing of all Rhode Island lodges.
Going forward, PLEASE DO NOT ASSUME that because you are fully vaccinated and boosted that you "just" have a cold or allergies. (Why are you coming to Lodge if you have a cold, anyway?)
For the sake of your brethren and loved ones, if you feel even slightly ill or if you suspect that you may have been exposed to COVID, PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM ALL LODGE FUNCTIONS, wear a mask around others, and get tested at your earliest opportunity.
Remember that you are your Brothers’ keeper. We act not for ourselves alone, but for the good of all
W∴ Joshua A. Irizarry