To the Most Excellent the Grand Chapter of Alberta
V.Ex. Companion and Right Worshipful Bro. James Ratchford, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge
of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Alberta; my fellow Companions of Grand Council, R. Ex.
Comp. Duncan Strachan and R.Ex. Comp. John Bronius; and the Most Excellent the Past Grand First
Principals; M.Ex. Comp. Larry Gray, General Grand Chapter International;
Distinguished Guests and Companions.
Right Worshipful Bro, Ratchford, on behalf of the Royal Arch Masons of Alberta, let me once again
pledge to the Grand Lodge of Alberta our continued allegiance and support. We thank you for taking the
time from your busy schedule to be with us this weekend. On a personal level, let me congratulate you on
your up-coming Installation. We as Royal Arch Masons are always proud and pleased to have one of our
Companions in a leadership role in Ancient Craft Masonry. We wish you good health and a productive
and enjoyable term.
I wish to welcome you all to this, the 102nd Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch
Masons of Alberta. One hundred years ago this Grand Chapter was still in some turmoil re: its future as
an independent body. M.Ex. Comp. S. Y. Taylor, Grand First Principal, stated on March 10, 1915 on the
occasion of the First Annual Convocation, “I have at all times striven to uphold the dignity and honour of
the office and have had but one aim – to demonstrate the value of our organization and to secure as
speedily as possible peace and harmony within our border. While we have been successful in the former I
regret to state, that the latter problem is yet unsolved.” Well, 102 years later we have an organization that
is dignified, it is honourable, it is at peace and it is harmonious.
Over that period successive Grand Chapter officers have striven to achieve these aims in abundance.
We now have a Grand Chapter that is proud, strong and joyful.
I, as every Grand First Principal who has served before me, state clearly that this year as your Grand First
Principal has been a most marvellous experience. Let me tell you why. You probably have heard these
already as many of these ideas I expressed in my inaugural address and at various times while visiting
chapters, districts, concordant bodies and sister jurisdictions.
You are my Companions and I am your Companion. I carried a title, a responsibility and a dignity but, in
the end, any respect that I did or did not earn comes from how well I served you. I have always felt that a
leader in such a position should be there to inspire, encourage and, maybe, warn (sounds like the Queen’s
role). Not to administer or to manage, for there are other individuals who through their long association
with decision-making can do that so much better. I am thinking of the various Committees, the other
members of Grand Council, the Past Grand First Principals, the Grand Treasurer, and above all, the Grand
Scribe E. who after 13 years in that position should be able to carry out those duties.
Besides, he is a wonderful guy!
It is from this need to inspire our membership that much of our prosperity is dependent. If our leadership
is seen to both enjoy each others company and to revel in being with our fellow Companions, then as
stated in the General Charge of our Craft Masonry, “… and then will be attained the chief point n
Freemasonry, namely, to endeavor to be happy ourselves, and to communication that happiness to others.”
Well, how does this happen?
First – Our Order of the Holy Royal Arch is outstanding – point blank. We have the most wonderful set of
degrees. Indeed, it is only in the Degree of the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem that the lost word is finally
communicated. This is important, not because of its supposed accuracy, but because it is the culmination
of the search that we began as Entered Apprentices. Just take a moment to think of the momentous lesson
that we are taught for we all know that the final lesson for us to learn will only be made known
as we pass through the final veil.
Second – We as Royal Arch Masons insist on putting all of our Companions in charge of decision-making
from those at the most fundamental level of the constituent chapter, through the work done in the districts
and on to the governance of Grand Chapter. But, at this point I must bring forward one of my concerns.
A number of years ago it was decided by this Grand Body that the vote and, therefore, the right to make
future decisions as to the welfare and direction of Grand Chapter, would be given to all Royal Arch
Masons. No longer would you have to have served as a First Principal of a constituent chapter in order to
be a “member” of Grand Chapter. That year, when the vote had not yet been given to all Royal Arch
Masons, we had 6 Royal Arch Companions in attendance. Last year, after many years of having this right
to vote and to fully participate, we had 7. How dreadful. That is not good enough Companions.
Third – Our leadership comes directly from the membership and, upon completion of that leadership role,
they are able to return from it with no sense of self-entitlement or self-importance. We have all seen the
negative aspects of self-aggrandizement upon many organizations. Vanity and the inability for many to
“let go” is often at the root of this self-glory and that is never a good thing. For thirteen years as Grand
Scribe E, I have never, never, never found that to be a part of the thinking of any of our Grand Chapter
leadership. In fact, M.Ex. Comp. Norm Downs has often commented that following his term as Grand
First Principal, very clearly that what was once first has become the last and that is not a bad thing.
Fourth – This Grand Chapter Communication, the District Meetings and the individual Chapter meetings
reveals a strong sense of the value of what is best for the welfare of the whole. We discuss, we discuss,
we discuss and then we act. In the field of Social Psychology this is referred to as “Social Value
Orientation (SVO) where a definite effort is made to understand that what we do will impact the welfare
of others. It is fundamental that we never lose sight of the importance of this. If we should lose sight, the
results could be somewhat catastrophic – as was experienced in my own chapter a few years ago.
Royal Arch should not be that way.
Fifth – We as Royal Arch Masons make every attempt to include as wide a spectrum of individuals in our
chapters by which we are encouraged to bring their unique strengths and skills to the work of our chapters.
We need Companions with all skills – administrators, those who inspire, organizers and managers, cooks
and bottle-washers, musicians, orators, financial advisors and contributors, entertainers, and the list goes
on. I remember a Jr. Deacon in my craft lodge who told me that he seldom attended meetings as his office
and his attendance wouldn’t be missed as it was a “nothing” position. What an indictment! If any of our
membership feels this way, then it is our shame and it has no place in Royal Arch Masonry. Every
Companion in every Royal Arch Chapter is just as important as the other – from the First Principal
to the newest Mark Master Mason.
Sixth – Grand Chapter and its constituent chapters are never satisfied with just the status-quo. It is very
heartening to see a number of chapters and their membership embarking on some new and exciting
initiatives. We know that to grow we need to plan, shake things up, attract new members, encourage
current members and advertise and promote who we are and what we represent.
You all know what we represent, so how can we not progress.
Seventh – Even as we try new methods we continue to show the utmost respect for those values of times
long past upon which we have grown as an institution. I guess my longevity in Grand Chapter has shown
me that our roots are fundamental to who we are. Knowing our history and development helps us to know
who we are and, at the same time, build a sense of pride. I have pride in our beloved Grand Chapter
(which is all of us); I have pride in our Chapters and. above all else, I have pride in our Companions.
Over the past year I have continually been amazed at the skills, knowledge, tenacity and care
that have been shown.
My Companions, I had hoped to be a catalyst to encourage, to move forward, to promote ourselves, to be a
positive force and to stress the role and value of each individual chapter. As to whether I have
accomplished any of these and, if so, to what degree – that will be a decision that each of you will make.
My Companions, as I stated in my inaugural address a year ago, we do have it all.
We should both know it and show it.
The sole purpose of visitations is to spread the message and ideals throughout the jurisdiction, and it has
been demonstrated again and again that this can best be done through personal fellowship. The leadership
needs to visit with the Companions in their chapters. It was my duty to acquaint myself with their
problems and their needs, encouraging them in the importance of our work and in service to our Order.
John Todorovich in an article from 1957 stated, “This (visitations) he must do personally because “there is
no substitute for heart-to-heart personal work.”‘
My Companions in all my visits I never once felt anything more than I was being a servant to this Order
and to its Companions. I was able to bring your greetings and my own personal ones to the Companions
in attendance. I also took some time to shake the hand and say a few words to each Companion. That
brought me great joy as I revel in that form of social intercourse.
Hopefully, it helped to bring a more human vision of the office of Grand First Principal.
Wed-Thr May 6-7 GRAND COUNCIL OF CRYPTIC RITE Camrose
Thr-Sun May 7-10 GRAND CHAPTER OF ALBERTA Camrose
Monday May 11 ALBERTA #1 Calgary
Wednesday May 20 WAPITI #34 Grande Prairie
Thursday May 21 NORTH STAR #2 Edmonton
Thursday May 28 WESTERN CANADA PRIORY #35, KYCH Saskatoon
Fri-Sat May 29-30 GRAND CHAPTER OF SASKATCHEWAN Saskatoon
Thursday June 4 GOLDEN WEST #5 High River
Wednesday June 10 SHEKINAH #4 Lethbridge
Fri-Sat June 12-13 GRAND LODGE OF ALBERTA Red Deer
Monday June 15 EDSON #30 Edson
Wednesday June 17 MOUNT OLIVET #17 Camrose
Thursday June 18 ASSINIBOIA #3 Medicine Hat
Thursday June 25 LEBANON #38 Stettler
Wed-Sat July-Aug 29-1 YORK RITE SOVEREIGN COLLEGE Louisville, KY
Wed-Thr August19-20 GRAND IMPERIAL CONCLAVE Vaudreuil, QC
Fri-Sun August21-23 SOVEREIGN GREAT PRIORY Vaudreuil, QC
Tuesday August25 OTUSKWAN #9 Calgary
Thursday Sept 3 EHEYEH #27 Drumheller
Saturday Sept 12 MINI-FIELD DAY Drumheller
Fri-Sun Sept 18-20 GRAND CHAPTER OF BC AND YUKON Chilliwack
Saturday Oct 3 DISTRICT #1, ANNUAL MEETING Stony Plain
Thursday Oct 8 STRATHMORE #21 Irricana
Thursday Oct 15 HANGINGSTONE #40 Fort McMurray
Saturday Oct 17 DISTRICT #4, ANNUAL MEETING High River
Monday Oct 19 CRESCENT #24 Calgary
Wednesday Oct 21 STONEY #41 Stony Plain
Thursday Oct 22 MOUNTAINVIEW #42 Didsbury
Saturday Oct 24 DISTRICT #2, ANNUAL MEETING Cold Lake
Monday Oct 26 COLD LAKE #39 Cold Lake
Wednesday Oct 28 HARMONY #26 Brooks
Saturday Oct 31 DISTRICT #3, ANNUAL MEETING Bassano
Monday Nov 16 KEYSTONE U.D. Red Deer
Wednesday Nov 18 MOUNT OLIVET #17 Camrose
Thursday Nov 26 PARKLANDS #31 Wainwright
Thursday Dec 10 CAPITAL CITY #13 Edmonton
Sunday Dec 20 CHRISTMAS OBSERVANCE Edmonton
Thursday Jan 14 STRATHMORE #21 and EHEYEH #27 Irricana
Monday Feb 1 NORWOOD #18 Edmonton
Saturday Feb 13 GRAND EXECUTIVE MEETING Lacombe
Saturday Feb 13 CHINESE NEW YEAR’S DINNER Calgary
Friday Apr 22 HILLVUE #15 Frank
Thursday Apr 28 CAPITAL CITY #13 Edmonton
Thursday May 12 WESTERN CANADA PRIORY #35, KYCH Camrose
Thr-Sun May 12-15 GRAND CHAPTER OF ALBERTA Camrose
What a joy it was to be able to visit every chapter within our Grand Jurisdiction, a few more than once. I
have to admit that there were a few of them where this turned out to be my first visit. I can say
unequivocally that every visit was an inspiration. I came away from these with a wonderful sense of
having experienced true companionship. Every visit opened a new vista for me. Every visit showed a
respect for the leadership of this Grand Chapter and an interest in its workings.
From the four corners of this province – Assiniboia #3 in Medicine Hat – Hillvue #15 in the Crowsnest –
Wapiti #34 in Grande Prairie to Hangingstone #40 in Fort McMurray – and to all of the other 19 chapters
in between thank you for receiving us with such dignity, warmth, hospitality
and with the many courtesies and presentations.
I would like to take the time to comment favorably on each chapter. That would be very easy to do
but space and time don’t allow for that at this time.
But, I must say that, like a phoenix arising out of the ashes, we now have Keystone U.D. in Red Deer on
the verge of regaining its rightful place amongst the chapters within our Grand jurisdiction. The Grand
Chapter officers had the privilege of instituting this Chapter near the end of 2015. Although, some work
still needs to be done, we all encourage the Companions of this Chapter to continue to work diligently
and in harmony to achieve your Consecration in the near future.
I must at this point gratefully acknowledge the support and the attendance of the Grand Chapter Officers
and the members of the Executive Committee. I would like to thank them from my very heart for being
there again and again and again. For every meeting, the attendance of these wonderful Companions
I was able to attend all but one District Meeting and I apologize to R.Ex. Comp. David Roberts, Grand
District Superintendent, and all of the Companions of District #3 for my absence. I thank R.Ex. Comp.
Duncan Strachan, GH, for ably filling in for me. I had no doubt that that meeting would be exceptional
and, from all reports, that was the case.
The District meetings were, without exception, well organized, quite well attended and very worthwhile.
All of the Companions of this jurisdiction need to be made aware that the District Meetings are much
more than an opportunity to choose a Grand District Superintendent-elect. The Districts that are the most
influential are those that have developed a sense of identity, where the Grand District Superintendents are
a true part of the regular life of the chapters, where they are dedicated to support the Grand Chapter and
the constituent chapters. The Committee Chairman for the Membership and Planning Committee
continues to provide information on these occasions with enthusiasm about the development of
sound practices re: membership growth and retention.
To both the Grand District Superintendents of Districts #1 and 2, Grand Council understands that various
health issues played a major force upon you, your families and, therefore, your districts. As always, this
must take precedence in your lives. We wish for you both continued improvement and we thank you for
your dedication to our Grand Chapter even through some difficult times.
To both the Grand District Superintendents of Districts #3 and 4, your absolute support, attendance,
labours and commitment were outstanding. Future Grand District Superintendents can look to you for that
true template to follow as they carry out their duties in the future. I thank you and wish that you know that
your every action in support of this Grand Chapter has been noticed and welcomed.
Upon the recommendation of the Committee on the Condition of Capitular Masonry.
I am pleased to confer the title of Right Excellent Companion on each of the following:
District #1 – R.Ex. Comp. R. John Hayes
District #2 – R.Ex. Comp. W. Jeffrey Knight
District #3 – R.Ex. Comp. David J. Roberts
District #4 – R.Ex. Comp. Barry A. Hanna
I am also pleased to confirm the election of the following District Superintendents:
District #1 – Ex. Comp. Bruce Zawalsky
District #2 – R.Ex. Comp. Jason Kachur
District #3 – Ex. Comp. W. (Bill) Kostenuk
District #4 – Ex. Comp. Barry W. Horner
The Grand Council in this jurisdiction consists of the three senior Grand Chapter Officers, GZ, GH and GJ
but for purposes of proper administration we also include the Grand Scribe E along with the Grand
Treasurer, if possible. We have been able to meet on two occasions where some major discussions
occurred re: future directions for Grand Chapter but most of our time was spent on dealing with
administrative items. It has been indicated that these meetings afford a great learning tool for both
the GH and, in particular, for the GJ.
The following dispensations were issued:
May 12 Strathmore #21 MMM/MEM same day, MMM elsewhere
May 12 Eheyeh #27 MMM/MEM same day, MMM elsewhere
Jun 9 Shekinah #4 elect/install P. Soj. out of time
Aug 13 Lebanon #38 MMM/MEM same day, MMM elsewhere
Aug 14 Shekinah #4 MMM/MEM same day, MMM elsewhere
Nov 4 Shekinah #4 change date of Nov, 2015 meeting
Nov 13 Edson #30 elect Z without serving as H
Nov 22 Golden West #5 change date/location of Dec, 2015 meeting
Dec 3 Lebanon #38 change date/time of Dec, 2015 meeting
Dec 3 Mount Olivet #17 change location of Dec, 2015 meeting
Jan 6 Eheyeh #27 change location of emergent Jan 2016
Jan 10 Mountainview #42 change date/location of Jan, 2016 meeting
Jan 19 Eheyeh #27 install H out of time
Jan 27 Otuskwan #9 confer RA Degree in Montana
Jan 29 Stoney #41 bylaw amendments until Jurisprudence rules
Mar 17 Hangingstone #40 change time of May, 2016 meeting
Mar 22 Mount Olivet #17 confer MMM outside of own chapter
Mar 25 Golden West #5 bylaw amendments until Jurisprudence rules
Apr 20 Mount Olivet #17 confer MMM outside of own chapter
Apr 20 Mountainview #42 install J out of time
Apr 26 Cold Lake #39 change date of May, 2016 meeting
May 6 Norwood #18 hold RAM degree on separate date for other chapter(s)
May 6 Grand Chapter appear without RA regalia/in casual clothes throughout the jurisdiction
May 10 Hillvue #15 change location of May, 2016 meeting
It is always a difficult time for each of us when we hear of the passing of a Companion to the Grand
Chapter Above. We as a body are somewhat diminished by our loss of each of them. I would ask each of
you to take a moment to read over the list of the names as it appears in the Memorial Service and
remember these our Companions in your hearts.
We continue to be blessed by having the talents of V.Ex. Comp. Earle Sharam, Grand Chaplain; V.Ex.
Comp. Robert Harrison, Grand Organist and Ex. Comp. Kyle Scott, Piper; along with the leadership of
R.Ex. Comp. John Bronius, GJ, to lead us in that most remarkable and memorable Service yesterday
evening. It can be said, that the time spent last night, remembering those who have left us,
can be a joy and an inspiration. It is the least that we can do.
There is some growth being experienced throughout the jurisdiction. Unfortunately, it continues to be
negated by losses through death, demits and suspensions. The issue re: our membership is not new so I
am not about to repeat all of the long-used comments made by others. Right now there are a few things
that should be kept in mind. Bringing people into capitular masonry is best achieved on a one-companion
to one-brother approach. Talk it up – don’t be afraid to “sell” what we have for it is this one-to-one contact
that we are best able to define/show who we are and what we are.
Then once a candidate becomes a Companion, then get them involved in the life of the chapter. Make
sure that in your chapter meetings, as someone once told me, has “business that matters and ritual that
stirs”. Don’t allow yourselves to become your own worst enemies through division and discord, power
struggles and the sense of elitism. Watch for them for they will very quickly destroy all the good
that you have endeavored to create.
One small comment on “ritual that stirs”. As this year has unfolded, I have confirmed in my mind that
even small chapters can do excellent ritual work. I have seen it over and over again. But, it does take
determination and commitment.
We as the Royal Arch Order are indeed different from all the other concordant bodies. We are not better
but we are different. Why? It is our commitment in pursuing the qualities of dignity, ethics, labour and
true friendship, all wrapped up in the enjoyment of our work that makes us so. I saw this in every chapter,
the simple joy of being there. I couldn’t help but share that joy.
Just keep in mind that we are all volunteers in this organization. Life is full and we have so many options
for our time, skills and resources so we all need to choose wisely as to how best to use them. Royal Arch
Masonry must be seen and felt to be able to give more meaning to our lives. We all should give ourselves
willingly and with generosity. Give your time, your effort, your resources, your skills, your smiles and
Companions, get off your butts and work for this wonderful Order.
First – I would strongly recommend that the Grand Council along with the Grand Scribe E and, if possible,
the Grand Treasurer continue to meet as a expanded “Grand Council” as many times throughout the term
as can be reasonably expected. There is a unity of purpose that results from these occasions which
helps to produce a smoother operation.
Second – I have proposed for discussion and possible action that a new Grand Chapter Officer be created,
that of Grand Piper.
Third – An evaluation of our participation in General Grand Chapter, International needs to continue and
all aspects of its value to us as a Grand Chapter needs to be openly discussed.
Fourth – Some titles and the true responsibilities don’t match. As an example, an office has the title of
R.Ex. Comp. because of that officer having been “elected” but the question is – what does the officer do
that would warrant that title. I have brought before the Executive Committee of Grand Chapter a request
to study this matter and make recommendations.
Fifth – I know that the Grand Scribe E has continuing requests for Royal Arch ties that could be worn with
business suits at Royal Arch functions. Grand Chapter should investigate the design and cost of
a unique tie for use by Companions of this jurisdiction.
Sixth – We must prepare a new or revised promotional brochure. I have finally begun to research the
material that was produced by Capital City #13 a number of years ago. With the assistance of the
Membership and Long-Range Planning I am confident that we can produce a document that would
do much for the growth of our Order.
Seventh – We need to pursue taking on the conferral of the Virtual Past Master’s Degree by our own
Alberta membership on a more regular basis. It should be emphasized that this would not be within the
powers of the chapters to confer nor would it be a pre-requisite for any other advancement.
Eighth – There is a gap in the availability of the Royal Arch in the area just north of Edmonton.
The possibility of a new chapter in that area should be encouraged.
Ninth – Even though it is probably too early to be specific, we as a Grand Chapter, the constituent chapters
and Companions all, must make ourselves and our resources available to assist our Companions from Fort
McMurray. As things become clearer and more defined, we will act and we will act quickly in whatever
manner we can with the advice of our Companions from Hangingstone Chapter. I would ask you all to
prepare yourselves to take on that commitment with your whole heart and with your financial resources
whenever the call comes and come it will, I am sure.
R.Ex. Comp. Duncan Strachan and R.Ex. Comp. John Bronius have given of themselves to a degree I
would never have imagined possible. They have been with me at nearly every chapter visit and at all the
district meetings. I have continuously felt the warmth of their friendship – what an absolute joy!!
To all of the Grand Chapter officers, please know that I was on many occasions quite overwhelmed by
your support, both with your attendance with me and your generously kind comments. I must also add a
thank you to all of your family members for so willingly supporting you and consequently
supporting this Grand Chapter.
Thank you again my Companions for welcoming me into your chapters and for your encouraging
comments. Every one of them has meant so much to me.
To all of the visitors to this jurisdiction, your attendance is one of honour and we prize that dearly. In
most cases you have been friends for a considerable period of time. For others, I consider this the
beginning of even more continuing friendships in the future.
To Anne there is nothing more I can say than “I love you.” I could never have achieved any degree of
success without your efforts and, for part of these past few months, you have, unexpectedly,
served Grand Chapter.
In the manner of some other institutions, I wish to give to you my personal testimony. Our Royal Arch,
here in this jurisdiction, is a creation that has no equal. You are a kind, generous, understanding, joyous
and caring people. You are an institution founded on sound principals and you act upon with delight.
This institution carries all of the good qualities that mankind needs and
it will never fail us if you never fail it.
God bless you all.
Marvyn R. Rogers, Grand First Principal