A Masonic Passport
Paul Groves Downs Lodge 6855
A Masonic Passport
At a very early stage in our masonic advancement, we are told that with regard to the earth, Freemasonry is universally spread over its surface. On receipt of the Grand Lodge certificate, the explanation completed, comparisons are often made between this wonderful document and a modern day passport.
Joining The Downs Lodge, 6855 back in 1989 as a young Immigration Officer, my proposer and mentor, WBro John Tebbutt urged me to use my new “passport” and visit as many lodges as possible. This began a masonic journey initially around Kent, then to London and on one memorable occasion to Flanders, as guests of the Provincial Grand Master.
Shift-working had its advantages, as learning ritual in the hours between midnight and “going home” time often seemed to embed the words deeper into my memory.
John encouraged me to join a number of side degrees and I went through the chairs in the Craft, Royal Arch Mariners, Mark Master Masons and Rose Croix.
Back in 2003, in the latter part of the year, I received my 30th degree at Duke Street. This was a matter of days before my first overseas posting to Kampala. At the meal afterwards a tap on the shoulder was followed by a business card and a recommendation that once in Uganda I should contact this person.
There followed a series of most wonderful meetings in Kampala and Jinja. A few years later I narrowly missed a meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria. I was in charge of the European U23 Triathlon Championships and in the lift at the Park Hotel Moskva, where we were staying with all the athletes, I bumped into a team from England who had been helping to expand the masonic operations there.
Sadly, as work got busier and as I soon found myself being sent overseas more regularly, I found it increasingly more difficult to attend meetings in the various degrees with the same frequency as before and had to resign from KT, Malta and Chapter.
After a good few years of on and off overseas postings, I found myself back in the UK and able to dedicate more time to masonry.
With retirement that has become even easier and I am enjoying the various activities across the degrees more now than ever before.
In the autumn of last year, my wife and I travelled to her native Argentina for and extended stay, split between the capital, Buenos Aires and Córdoba. With this being more than just the usual flying visit, I sent requests through all the necessary channels to ensure that, if the chance arose, I’d be able to attend a meeting or two during our stay. At the same time my wife, an avid user of social media, had contacted the Gran Maestre (Presidente), Pablo Lázaro (https://www.masoneria-argentina.org.ar/entrevista-al-gran-maestre-pablo-lazaro-en-hablemos-de-otra-cosa/ ), who in turn referred her enquiry to the R.W. Bro. Richard Cooper, District Grand Master of UGLE, District of South America, Southern Division.
Within no time at all, I had received a very kind mail from R.W. Bro. Eber Gómez Berrade, Deputy District Grand Master and an invitation to an installation meeting. Sadly circumstances prevented me from attending this meeting but a further invitation came, inviting me to attend the Trevor Mold Lodge, No. 3293, which is the only Past Master Lodge of Research in the District.
The Lodge is named after Charles Trevor Mold, a broker who had emigrated from England with his wife. They had a son, Carlos (Charles) Trevor, who went on to become an accomplished rugby player. His position, at fly-half, saw him play against the touring “Combinado Británico” in 1910. This was considered to be one of the first “British Lions” tours. He then went on to play cricket for Argentina.
The meeting took place in a beautiful old building in the heart of Buenos Aires. It was a hot and interesting drive through the city to get there on time. Once inside, I met with some of the members and was invited for a pre-meeting drink at the bar.
The temple is a wonderful example of masonic history, with lodge banners displayed around the walls and the names of past masters etched into boards.
The meeting provided a couple of lectures; “Parallels between the winding staircase and the Opening in the First Degree”, written by W. Bro. Francisco Bórquez, PADGM (Lodge of Harmony N° 1411, Chile) and “Some Ceremonial Swords in Emulation”, written by Bro. Juan Manuel Acevedo, DGSwdB (Asunción Lodge N°10006, Paraguay).
All workings were in English, despite it being a second language for some and both lectures were competently written in English.
After each lecture, a short discussion followed before we descended a grand winding staircase to dine.
It was at the rather sumptuous festive board that I was able to read out a message from the Worshipful Master of my own lodge, WM James Chenery;
“We know that the branches of Freemasonry extend across the four quarters of the globe because we are told as much in our ritual books, but rarely does a Master have the opportunity and privilege to address a body of fellow Freemasons at a Festive Board 6910 miles away! These words are of course being relayed by WBro Paul Groves, an officer of The Downs Lodge no. 6855 based in Deal, Kent, of which I have the honour of being the current Master.
Lodges here in our quiet corner of the Province of East Kent have become so much more reliant on the support of visiting brethren in recent years for a multitude of reasons, many of which are beyond our immediate control, but the support of visitors here is strong and has such a positive impact on our Freemasonry in general. I have always held the view that visiting enables us to make new connections and to spread the bonds of friendship and brotherhood beyond the confines of our individual temples. It enables us to share ideas and learn new things. It makes us better able to support our local communities and ultimately to achieve our collective goals. Visiting is the lifeblood of Freemasonry, and it’s darn good fun too.
Privately I am more than a little envious of the opportunity Paul has had to join you this evening. I have little doubt that he will have been treated to a vibrant and proficient ceremony. Having read the summons I noted two very interesting items on the agenda; the “Parallels between the winding staircase and the opening in the First Degree”, and “Some Ceremonial Swords in Emulation”. I hope and trust that Paul’s recollection of these is on point because I have no doubt that the brethren of The Downs Lodge will enjoy hearing about them!
Worshipful Master, officers and brethren of The Trevor Mold Lodge, may I extend my thanks to you all for welcoming WBro Paul into your sanctum this evening. I don’t doubt that he has enjoyed a wonderful few hours in your company and will return to The Downs with warm and affectionate recollections. Please accept my warmest Masonic greetings from a rather cold and damp south east Kent and the very best wishes for the future from all the brethren of The Downs Lodge. And of course it goes without saying that if any of your brethren find themselves in our corner of the world on the first Wednesday of March, April, May, June, July or September, they will be warmly welcomed and well looked after at The Downs Lodge.”
I am looking forward to my return to Buenos Aires and, by a wonderful coincidence as I was writing this, received a message from R.W. Bro. Eber inviting me to their 339th meeting in late May.
If anyone is interested in British migration to Argentina and Uruguay, this website opens up a treasure trove of history: http://www.argbrit.org/index.html
The Lodge Summons
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