Friday, July 30, 2010

Another WIIFM Winner!

Last week we able to present a WIIFM patch to our first winner, Isaac Holtzer of Westmoreland Chapter. Today, I'm happy to announce the second winner of our WIIFM contest!

The winner for Friday, July 30, 2010 is Jarred!

So, if you're following this blog and your display name is Jarred, drop a line with your name and address to and I'll be glad to get your patch right out to you!

Remember, there are still 8 weeks left in the WIIFM contest, and anyone who becomes an official "Follower" of the blog can be a winner! So, click that "Follow" link up in the top right hand corner and next week your name could be here!

Frat!~"Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Unplugging and Taking Control

With another Convention down, a new group of young men have taken over the leadership of PA DeMolay, guided by Tom Moyer, our new State Master Councilor. I've had the pleasure of working with Tom over the last year or so, and we've talked a lot about membership. We took some time to talk about his goals as SMC, and how he wanted to impact our membership number. After some discussion with Tom and his other officers, the "Take Control!" theme was born.

Notice - I didn't say the Take Control! Membership Campaign, or Take Control! Community Service Initiative. I said the Take Control! theme. There is a very specific reason for that. This program isn't just about getting new members, or being involved in your community. It's about getting back to the most basic foundations of the DeMolay program. A program for young men, operated by young men.

It has become very easy to let Advisors run the DeMolay program. They don't take over out of some malevolent desire. In fact, it's quite the opposite. They end up in charge because of how much they love the program, and don't want to see it fail. Rather than letting the young men learn to plan and execute, and in some cases fail in the process, they assume the reins and begin to make phone calls, send letters, and do other tasks which should really devolve to the Master Councilor and his officers.

DeMolay provides a safe environment where it's okay to fail. Did you hear that? Let me say it again. It's okay to fail. It's often been said that you learn more from failing than from success. Are the young men in your Chapter really learning anything by letting the Advisors do the work? Of course not! Let them try to plan a paintball outing. If they succeed, the rewards are built in, thanks to the activity. If they fail, so is the punishment, in that they don't get to go have a good time with their friends. If this kind of event fails to happen, it's not the end of the world, as long as you debrief the event with them and help them understand how it could have been more successful. Let the guys take a leap of faith, and see what they can do.

So, while our young men are Taking Control! what are the Advisors supposed to do? The answer is simple; unplug. That's right, unplug. Cut the power. Let go. Take off the safety wheels, and let the young men run the program they are supposed to run. This isn't to say that the advisors don't have a role in youth protection and risk management. That is still their primary concern, but rather think about each event and determine if its success or failure really will impact the overall Chapter program in the long run.

Knowing WHEN to let a failure occur is the difficult thing. Failing to hold an Educational Day observance may seem like a small thing now, but when the Master Councilor goes to apply for his PMC-MSA, it becomes a much bigger deal. What is an Advisor to do? Explain to the Master Councilor what he's missing from his program. If he fails to plan the event, then it's up to him to explain why the event didn't happen. If he was really going for his MSA this could be a big blow, but learning to follow the rules and the boundaries of the program is an important life skill that shouldn't be short changed. The question is, will this individual failure have a serious negative impact on the Chapter as a whole? There is no right or wrong answer to this question-- it is situational and the decision is often based on the Chapter's current strength.

Sometimes an Advisory Council cannot just unplug. For example, financial transparency should be the norm in every Chapter. The young men should know exactly how much money they have at any one time, and the Advisory Council should be performing self checks on the financial statements each month. Remember the line from "DAD" training - "their money, our stewardship." Unplugging doesn't mean Advisors aren't involved. Instead, in this case, they are more like a financial watch dog. The young men should meet with them to discuss their financial needs and goals, and come up with a plan to make it reality. Again, notice who is coming up with the plan; not the Advisory Council, but the young men.

Unplugging isn't easy, but this is a theme for Advisors that PA DeMolay is going to use all year, in conjunction with the young men who Take Control!. If you are an active DeMolay, ask yourself, "What am I doing to take control, and show my Advisors that I am ready and able to be in charge of my Chapter's future?" If you are an Advisor I encourage you to ask yourself "How can I unplug, and let the young men become the drivers of our Chapter's success while still maintain a safe environment?" Now those are some tough questions, but the answers will pay dividends that cannot be counted in dollars and cents.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, July 26, 2010

Why do I get up and do this everyday?

For those who follow this blog on a regular basis (and hopefully signed up as a "Follower" so that they are entered into our WIIFM Contest) will remember my post about the great material I found on Art of Manliness and its podcast. I've continued to listen to their program, and I came across another great resource / idea that I just had to share with everyone. Why this is great requires a bit of setup, though.

Back in the fall of last year the Grand Master of DeMolay International (then Robert Cockerham) organized and presented conferences on different topics around the country. The closest one to us was in Washington, D.C., and related to communications. At this conference they had a great line up of speakers, one of which was an alumni member of Mother Chapter. Unfortunately, I don't remember the fellows name, but I do remember much of his story. This gentlemen wasn't much older than me (maybe 2 or 3 years at most) and had already lived a life that I couldn't even dream of. He attended an Ivy League school, spent three years working for a high powered consulting firm in California, and then left it all to go travel about Europe for a few months. He came back to the States and found that his wanderlust wasn't quenched, so he took a trip to Asia for an extended period. Upon returning the U.S. he started a small business, but wasn't excited about being settled down, so he took off for South America, where he eventually met his wife, in Argentina! Now, he was back in the States, working on another project that relates to the Masonic Fraternity. Wow! What a story!

Now, where does this leave me? Feeling like a lame and useless slob, that's where. Here is a guy, who is roughly my age, who has experienced so much more than me. This begs the question "what am I doing with my life?" Needless to say, after his presentation I felt horrible about myself (where I'm guessing I was supposed to be inspired.) I had a long talk with my family after that conference, and they made me realize that what I do is important, and that just because I hadn't traveled, I wasn't less than him. I probably should have come to this conclusion on my own, but it helps to be reaffirmed now and then. So how does this relate back to the podcast?

The special guest on this particular episode was Chris Guillebeau, who runs a blog called the Art of Non-Conformity. Chris sounds much like the fellow I heard speak at the conference. He's been all over the world, and plans to have visited every country on the planet by the time he's 35. As I listened to Chris on the podcast I began to have the same feeling of uselessness that I had at the conference last fall. Then Chris made an excellent point. To paraphrase he said that every man chooses what's important to him, and what makes him feel secure and useful in life. For Chris, it happened to be independence and travel, and that is why he does what he does. He also made mention that his wallpaper, on his computer desktop, is a sign that reads "Why do I do this everyday?" He said it makes him take a hard look at himself every morning, and helps him realign his values and what he wants in life. Now that's introspective!

As the podcast ended, I continued to ponder on what Chris had said. Why do I get up and come to work at PMYF everyday? What is it that draws me back? What is that has drawn "Dad" Labagh back every day for the last 27 years? Based upon what Chris had talked about, I came to realize much of it had to do with security. At PMYF I understand the program. I understand the players. I understand the values, culture, and history, and complexities of the Masonic world. I also understand that no matter where I'm at in the U.S., and most of the world, I will have a brother with an open hand waiting to pick me up off of my feet should I find myself in need of aid. On that same thought, I know that others look to me for aid, and that everyday I can have an impact on a persons life by guiding them and helping them work through challenges.

While my life may seem like a boring drudge of websites at times, or a whirlwind of conferences with nary a free weekend in sight, at the end of the day it all comes down to "why do I do this?"

Now, I have an idea of why. So why do you participate in DeMolay or the Masonic Fraternity? Or would you rather be sailing down the Amazon river, and travelling the globe? What are your priorities?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

P.S. - Congratulations go out to Bro. Isaac Holtzer, of Westmoreland Chapter in Greensburg, PA, for being the first winner of our WIIFM contest! Would you like to win? Head over to the WIIFM post for details!

P.S.S. - If you joined us at Convention over the weekend, why don't you take a few minutes and let us know what your experience was like by completing this survey!

P.S.S.S. - Yes, that's a bunch of "S"'s! I just wanted to take a minute to apologize for the large amount of typos that were originally in this article. After doing massive updates to the PA DeMolay website, and coming off of a tiring Convention, I forgot to do a second read through to ensure grammar. In the words of Monty Python, I will sack my editor, which is myself. So, I am sacking myself. We'll see how this goes...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

PA Masonic Blood Club's INCREDIBLE Support for DeMolay

MEMBERSHIP HAS ITS PRIVILEGES! (O.K., somebody already uses that slogan, but it is true for DeMolay, and for Masonic Blood Club Members as well!)

Since 2005, members of PA DeMolay (and PA Rainbow and PA Job's Daughters, too!) have been eligible for membership in the PA Masonic Blood Club. The best time to develop lifelong blood donors is to start them donating and taking an interest at the earliest age possible. Giving blood is a gift of life for those in need. It is a selfless act of service to the general good of the community and the world. We need to develop the habit of giving blood in MORE donors, for the benefit of us all.

AS A BENEFIT TO DeMOLAYS WHO DONATE BLOOD, the PA Masonic Blood Donors Club has offered BLOOD CLUB MEMBERSHIP and the BENEFITS that come with it. DeMolay Members need to be of the proper age (17) and weight (110 lbs. min.) before they donate, but they can still become members if someone donates FOR them. That means another family member or an advisor or a fellow DeMolay could donate in their behalf, providing them the benefits of membership in the blood club. We want them to make additional donations-- at least one a year, and more, if they can do it, because they see that the need is so great -- but their membership is good until they reach majority.

What are those benefits? Members of the blood club are protected when charged for blood or required to replace blood by the hospital. Their membership will also protect their parents(guardians) and siblings (for the family unit in which they are claimed as as an eligible dependent for IRS tax purposes.) THAT'S AN INCREDIBLE BENEFIT that most of us will never have to use, but for those who do, it can save hundreds, and in rare cases, even thousands, of dollars.

WHEN YOU ARE SELLING MEMBERSHIP IN DeMOLAY that is a benefit that most teenagers won't really understand or care about, unless a family member has ever desperately needed blood. But parents will probably be impressed!

The Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation keeps the record of all youth blood club members, and you can join by submitting the youth donor form. Membership cards will be mailed once a year to all the youth members, who remain members until they reach majority. (If they become Masons before that time, their membership is converted to Masonic membership in the club.)

The PA Masonic Blood Club does so much more for DeMolay, as well. Did you know that the Club will support blood drives your Chapters sponsor, by advertising in the local newspaper, and providing a banner to be used outside the donation location? They will notify all Masonic Lodges in the area and ask that they place the information into their lodge meeting notice to support your Chapter's blood drive. They will do this if Chapters run blood drives on their own or participate with their local church, school, business or local Masonic group.

The PA Masonic Blood club will also support chapters by purchasing advertising in anniversary books and other chapter publications that allow advertising and are approved by the Masonic Blood Donor Club.

They will also provid speakers for your chapter meetings, either from the club or from a local blood collecting organization. (Red Cross, etc.)

The Blood Club also allows a Lodge to designate Masonic Youth Groups as the recipient of their $10/pint reward for blood donations collected at Lodge-sponsored blood drives.

SO, WITH ALL THIS SUPPORT OFFERED, why are there only 14 Masonic Youth Members of the PA Masonic Blood Club?

Every Chapter ought to have an Advisor and a committee chairman who are assigned to promote membership in the PA Masonic Blood Club. The simple duty of this Advisor and chairman is to reach out to members and to their families, and encourage them to join the club by making a blood donation and then filing the form. Help your Chapters. Help your members! HELP YOUR COMMUNITY IN NEED! Make it happen!

"Dad" Tom Labagh, Executive Officer in PA

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Burning Ring of Stress

So, here we are, less than one week away from Convention, which is arguably one of the most anticipated events on the PA DeMolay calendar each year. For the last two years I have served as Director of Convention for PA DeMolay (in addition to my duties as Director of Communications for PMYF), a job which I enjoy. However, just because I enjoy it, doesn't mean that I don't find it stressful.

For 51 weeks of the year the job of the Director of Convention is pretty easy. You do some planning, make some phone calls, and keep people in the loop. Heck, even the budgeting isn't all that bad. Everything seems all "hunky-dory." Then, out of nowhere, the 52nd week arrives, and your life degenerates into one giant stressful quagmire of last minute preperations. Welcome to the 52nd week!

This year isn't quite so bad, but I am still a giant ball of stress (I've literally had nightmares about this program going wrong for the last week or so.) Early on I became wise to the ways of Convention during my stint as the Assistant Director, and one of my first decisions as Director was to create a staff of DeMolays and Advisors to help run the program. I quite honestly wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have these folks. "Dads" Justin Killian and Zack Panitzke are two of my closest friends, and it was to them that I looked to first for help in rounding out the program as Assistant Directors of Convention. As you enjoy Paintball, Fun-Fore-All, and Kennywood at this year's Convention, remember that "Dad" Killian and "Dad" Panitzke have been working on negotiating and securing these events for the past 6 months! This certainly doesn't happen over night!

To complement the Advisor team we've continued the practice of having a Youth Director of Convention and an Assistant Youth Director of Convention. Bro. Chad Reichard, of George Washington Chapter, will served as the Youth Director this year, after having served a year as the Assistant Youth Director. Filling the roll of Chad's right hand man, and Assistant Youth Director for 2010, is Bro. Jeff Bortz, PSMC. These two guys are the hands on, on the ground crew that ensure that the rooms are properly set up, and that everyone has what they need.

Often, people get confused over what the job of the Convention staff really is. Sometimes people think we're Advisors to watch all of the guys. Wrong. Sometimes people think we're kings, and that everything that happens there is up to us. Also wrong. Really, our job is quite simple. The Convention staff is tasked with securing a Convention venue, ensuring that rooms are provided for guests, that meeting space is apportioned and set up correctly, that meals are provided for, and that entertainment is planned, all within the frame work of a budget. What does that mean in simple terms? We provide the rooms. What happens in the rooms is up to the people in charge of that part of the program. For instance, we have nothing to do with the agendas for the luncheon and the business session. As long as there is a room, and there is food being served, we are in good shape. Beyond that is out of our hands.

We, as Convention staff, do our best to make Convention a fun and enjoyable experience for both the DeMolays and Advisors in attendance. This is the most expensive program that PA DeMolay runs each year, and it's quite a large program if one looks at the dollars and cents. All we ask, as Convention staff, is that the attendees follow the rules and have fun.

It's a pretty simple program when you look at it that way. Follow the rules, and have fun!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Friday, July 16, 2010

A bonus post, with a WIIFM!

Here at the PA DeMolay office we've been having a ton of fun writing this blog. It's given us an outlet for our thoughts, and a great way to connect with members and advisors all over the world. We really can't say enough about the experience!

As the blog has grown, so has our readership, but one number never seems to change. The amount of official "Followers" of this blog has hovered around 11 for quite some time now, and we'd like to change that. For that to happen we need your help!

We are kindly asking that each person who reads this blog (whether it be on our PA DeMolay website, or on the blog page itself) to go to, if you aren't already there. Now, look up on the right hand side, and you'll see a list of Followers, with a friendly little button that says "Follow." All we ask is that you click that button, and sign in if necessary (it uses a Google account, which almost everyone has), and become a Follower. It's really that easy!

So, you may be asking yourself, WIIFM? (In case you have been living in a vacuum, WIIFM = "What's in it for Me?" Well, fine reader, I have some fabulous prizes to give away to those who become "Followers" of this fine blog! I was trying to come up with something interesting, and a quick trip to the basement of Patton Hall produced a perfect idea.

Behold! This is an original DeMolay emblem patch, in almost mint condition, dated to between 1932 and 1943. How do I know that? Well, this version of the DeMolay emblem was adopted in 1932. Notice that the emblem has all pearls in it, which means that none of the original members of DeMolay had died. It wasn't until 1943 that Louis Lower, the first DeMolay, passed away. That's how I know that these patches are least 67 years old!

I have 10 of these patches to give away to readers like you! So, how do you get one of these vintage pieces of DeMolay history! Beginning on Friday, July 23, 2010, I will announce a winner, drawn at random from the list of those who "Follow" this blog. That means that you have to be listed as a "Follower" on the right hand side of the main page at I will continue to draw names for 10 weeks, and a person can only win once!

So, what do you say? Click that follow button, and get yourself in the running for one of these awesome pieces of DeMolay history!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Manly Arts

One of the luxuries of my job is the ability to spend some time just perusing the internet for new and innovative ideas to help our PA Masonic Youth Groups. Recently, I was on one of these quests, when I came upon a very interesting website, that turned out to be even better than I thought.

I've written before about the lost knowledge of manhood with the current generation, myself included. Many young men don't have a knowledgable mentor to teach them about cuts of suits, or heck, cuts of meat for that matter! To that end, I came across, which is a website dedicated to reviving the manly arts. What can you find there? Well, rather than asking me, you should go take a look! However, for a brief synopsis, you'll find articles about how to wear a boutonniere, how to succeed at a job interview, and even how to make your own aftershave (which I'm working on!) I would heartily recommend this website for any DeMolay. There is even a book that goes with, also titled the Art of Manliness, that is available from Amazon and other book retailers.

While surfing this website, I found out they also have a podcast. I've been a big fan of podcasts for several years now, so I decided to subscribe to it on iTunes and give it a try. As I looked down the list of available shows, lo and behold, I come across one titled The Art of Manliness Podcast #20: Freemasonry and American Manhood with Robert Davis. Holy cats! A show about Freemasonry! I downloaded the program immediately.

When I headed out to Harrisburg that evening, I listened to it while I was stuck in traffic. Wow! Robert Davis hits the nail right on the head! I would only do the man a disservice to try and relate his views, so I'm just going to tell you to listen. If you liked the "Man Making" seminar that PMYF sponsored in Pittsburgh last year, you're going to love this!

So what are you waiting for, get listening!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, July 12, 2010

Your Community - it's up to you!

Your community is wonderful, and I'm sure of it. Why? Because I know that every part of this Commonwealth is unique, different, and has its own local flair.

I was born and raised in Warren, PA, a small town about 60 miles east of Erie, nestled in the Allegheny mountains. When I was 14 my family moved from Warren to Edinboro, about 20 miles south of Erie. When I was 23 I moved from Edinboro to Glen Burnie, MD, about 10 miles southwest of Baltimore. Finally, I moved from Glen Burnie to Elizabethtown, but I'm guessing you know right where that is. So, why tell you where I lived? Simple. In every one of those communities I found something special.

From Warren I carry fond memories of canoeing down the river, summers spent in the forest, and ice cream cones from Dairy Delight. From Edinboro (and Erie) I picked up an interest in history, Scotland, my involvment in DeMolay and Masonry, and of course a BA from Edinboro University. Maryland gave me an insatiable taste for Old Bay spice, and the experience of working for one of the craziest businesses I have ever known, Games Workshop. Finally, Elizabethtown has given me a new home, a sweet tooth for bread pudding and shoe fly pie, and, of course, the proper way to pronounce "Lancaster" (Lank-ester.)

I'm sure that your local community has given you something as well. What is it? A love of a special food? A great memory? I'm sure there is something. It's YOUR community. You live there, and it's up to you to make an impact on it. It's great that you have fond memories of your community, but does your community have fond memories of you? That may seem like a funny notion, but for everything your community has done for you, have you done something for your community?

I've discussed community service here before, but I'm going beyond that with this piece. Community service is great, but continual involvement is even better. It's nice that you picked up garbage at that park a few years ago, but I'm betting it could use a cleaning again. That one Thanksgiving you helped Meals on Wheels was really great, but who knows what happened last year? Continual involvement in quality programs that impact your community is the best way to leave a legacy of caring, whether that be through your DeMolay Chapter or on your own as a responsible citizen.

To help you with finding projects, I'd like to share another great web resource. Check out This website is run by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and thanks to a quick search, it can connect you with projects in your community. I used Elizabethtown as a test and found a food drive in Lebanon, an MS run in Harrisburg, and appeal from a local historical society for someone to do simple data entry. Those were just 3 of close to 240 listed opportunities... and that is exactly what they are; opportunities for you alone, or working together as a Chapter, to leave a legacy in your community!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Region II Spotlight: Italy

DeMolay International divides its "Jurisdictions" (generally meaning a State or Country) into Regions. Pennsylvania is part of Region II which includes New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Nation's Capital, Ontario (in Canada, eh?) and Italy. Our region has a long history of excellence, and is renowned for how well we work together in planning Regional Conferences and events such as the Mid Atlantic Tournament of Champions (MATOC for short.)

However, the average DeMolay doesn't really get to interact with members from other Jurisdictions unless he goes to one of these events. One of the most interesting things in DeMolay is how different each Jurisdiction can be while still working within the guidelines set forth by DeMolay International. In an effort to familiarize you with our sister Jurisdictions from our Region, this blog will present a series of "Region II Spotlight" articles to give you some information about DeMolay in Region II.

Region II Spotlight on Italy

Io DeMolay per Regione Due. Huh? I am a DeMolay in Region 2. In a twist of fate, the Jurisdiction of Italy was inserted into our Region 2. In Italian, two is due', pronounced due ay. Since starting about 10 years ago, Italian DeMolay has grown to include 7 chapters. The newest chapter in the southern part of Italy is in Naples. Two Chapters are in Sicily, and 3 very active Chapters are near the capital city, Rome.

The DeMolay Italia delegation receives an Eagle from DeMolay International for Outstanding Membership Growth. "Dad" Critelli, EO of Italy is holding the eagle.

The Executive Officer, Luciano Critelli, is very enthusiastic about DeMolay. The delegation of Italian DeMolay usually includes well traveled at least 5 including Mom Rosalba Leone, a Chapter Advisor, and at least 2 active members as Congress Delegates. This year, Italian DeMolay moved East across the Adriatic Sea, and started a chapter in Romania and Serbia. There is great interest in DeMolay in countries formerly part of Soviet dominated Europe. Italian DeMolay advisors are very friendly and well traveled. Most speak English well enough to talk about DeMolay. The Congress delegates, generally take English in school and are anxious to talk with DeMolays from North America, as well as our Brothers from South America.

In 1969, I was home ported in Naples Italy, and spent 13 months of my U.S. Navy career mostly in Southern and Central Italy. I visited all of the famous sights, climbing Mount Vesuvius, stood on top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and put a kink in my neck staring at the beautiful artwork on the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel. I had taken 4 semesters of French in school, and easily learned the basics of elementary Italian. The first Masonic Lodge I visited, after becoming a Master Mason was in Naples. From my speaking with these Brethren at ISC, they were added to our Region, and now Io DeMolay Italia!

In the past, MATOC, the Mid Atlantic Tournament of Champions has recognized an Italian DeMolay, in his performance of the Flower Talk. The words, in flowing Italian, transcended the actual meaning and the feeling of the work was conveyed. The judges were very moved, and were emotionally affected. This Brother, Guiseppe Barrasco, of Roma No. 1 Chapter had met Region 2 DeMolays at Congress and became friends. When I had sent, as a courtesy, the usual MATOC information, he wrote back that he would like to attend and compete.

The Italian DeMolay delegation arrives at DeMolay International Sessions in Houston Texas in 2010. It was a long flight from Rome!

The Italians were supercharged at Dallas Supreme Council and Congress this year. Their main translator, a very jovial advisor, is also a super futbol fanatic. His hourly announcements of the scoring and happenings was priceless. When the Americans suffered the first bad goal judge call- he tracked me down in the lobby of our hotel to tell me that the "referees were thieves!!". I took a second and said back- "we were robbed!".

Each year, I try to present some small tokens of Masonry and DeMolay to our Italian Brethren, They use the tokens and memorabilia as membership incentives and small rewards for activities. However, in return, the Italians have been most generous and have presented very interesting tokens in return. For instance, somewhere in Italy, a few DeMolays are wearing Key Man 2005 shirts, and some have different Shrine pins. This year, I have a beautiful tile representing the 200th anniversary of Italian Freemasonry.

The Italians have a very impressive webpage and face book presence. I write to many Brethren, as we practice our language skills and Brotherhood. Molti Bene! Very Good!

Special thanks go out to "Dad" Jim Ray, Active Member of DeMolay International, and Advisor for the Brandywine DeMolay Club, which hopes to be a Chapter very soon! "Dad" Ray is currently a Deputy Executive Officer for Pennsylvania DeMolay, and has served in various roles throughout the years, including Director of Ritual. "Dad" Ray is very involved with DeMolay Ritual, having served on several large tournament committees. He's also taken the field to play paintball with PA DeMolay, where he is affectionately known as the "Human Shield."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Changes in the DeMolay Ritual?

In the second edition of the DeMolay Handbook, printed in May, 1960, an interview with Dad Land, conducted at least 50 years ago, was printed as Chapter 1, on pages 1-5.

QUESTION: But, how do you know so positvely that ritual has been the key to DeMolay's amazing growth and success?"

Dad Land replied: "We have proof in the spoken and written testimony of hundreds of thousands of DeMolays who in the brief span of four decades have climbed to the top in their chosen fields of adult endeavor. They testify freely that much of the initial impetus up the ladder of success started in DeMolay Chapter rooms."

"It is also supported by the fact that since the ritual was written in 1919 by Frank A. Marshall, a Kansas City newspaperman and Masonic leader, it has remained virtually unchanged - even in its most minute detail. Top-ranking ritualists have heralded the DeMolay ritual as ageless."

This is the LEGEND of the Ritual, but is it, in fact, the truth? Or is truth a matter of degree-- of how much change is to be counted when we say that it is "virtually unchanged" even today?

I have a copy of the "original" manuscript of the ritual-- presumably Frank Marshall's first draft of the ceremonies.

I also have a copy of the printed First Edition, the one owned and annotated by Frank S. Land.

Lastly, I will make reference to the 4th Edition text of the DeMolay Degree from the Ritual (published in the mid-1920's, to the best of my knowledge.)

The original draft changed significantly before it was published, but the basics are all there-- the principles and much of the language we use today. The same can be said of the First Edition, except that much more of it is close to the language that we still use in the current 14th corrected edition.

Clearly, however, the text of the Fourth Edition DeMolay Degree is a far cry from being close to the Degree we confer today. In the mid-1920's there was some innovation going on in the Grand Council. You would be astounded at the changes that were made in the Fourth Edition. Certainly these changes were approved by Dad Land and Dad Marshall or they wouldn't have been printed. One of the very significant changes was a final speech by Jacques DeMolay in which he "salutes" the generations of the future who will carry on his work and the principles of knighthood. This was removed, but the "return salute" in the Orator's prayer was left in to this day, which is why we listen to that prayer and say, "When and how did DeMolay salute us in these times of ours?"

The dramatic changes included different characters in the DeMolay Degree dramatic section. But obviously, these changes must not have been well received by the general membership, because by 1930, the Fifth Edition was printed to return to what had been standard and accepted as "the Ritual" of the Order of DeMolay. Although there are some very interesting nuances to the Fourth Edition degree, they must have been rejected by a membership that had no intention of buying new ritual books or learning new material. The Fifth Edition is only marginally different from the First Edition and only a few words different from the 14th Corrected Edition.

So, yes, we can say that today's text is very similar to the early ritual. But I am not sure we can say it is "virtually unchanged" because, in truth,it was significantly changed at one time. Dad Land wasn't afraid to try significant changes. He also wasn't afraid to admit a ritualistic mistake, and he wasn't stubborn enought to insist that the changes MUST be accepted by everyone, as evidenced by the return to the more traditional language.

Should changes be made in the DeMolay Ritual? If you could "fix" something in the Ritual today, what would it be? Don't tell me that it should never be changed -- that duck won't float with me. The Holy Bible, the most sacred text in the world, has been retranslated, revised, paraphrased, musicalized, and rewritten to help make it more relevant to today's readers. The DeMolay Ritual isn't sacred text, but it should be easily understandable by the 12, 13, 14 and 15 year old new member who is seeing it for the first time. Maybe the time has come to update the preceptors, and modernize some of the language. What do YOU think?

"Dad" Tom Labagh, Executive Officer in PA

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Region II Spotlight: New York

DeMolay International divides its "Jurisdictions" (generally meaning a State or Country) into Regions. Pennsylvania is part of Region II which includes New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Nation's Capital, Ontario (in Canada, eh?) and Italy. Our region has a long history of excellence, and is renowned for how well we work together in planning Regional Conferences and events such as the Mid Atlantic Tournament of Champions (MATOC for short.)

However, the average DeMolay doesn't really get to interact with members from other Jurisdictions unless he goes to one of these events. One of the most interesting things in DeMolay is how different each Jurisdiction can be while still working within the guidelines set forth by DeMolay International. In an effort to familiarize you with our sister Jurisdictions from our Region, this blog will present a series of "Region II Spotlight" articles to give you some information about DeMolay in Region II

Region II Spotlight on New York

New York is the 3rd largest state in terms of population after California and Texas. New York City served as the first Capital of the United States after the Constitution was ratified, though after 2 years, the Capital moved to Philadelphia. This is presumably because the cheesesteaks are better, though scholars have not confirmed that this was the reason for the move.

In spite of the open land in the state, New York's population is very urban, with 92%of residents living in an urban area. New York is a slow growing state with a large rate of domestic migration to other states. In 2000 and 2005, more people moved from New York to Florida than from any one state to another. However, New York state is one of the leading destinations for international immigration and thus has the second largest immigrant population in the country (after California) at 4.2 million as of 2008.

New York DeMolay currently has 408 members, split into 4 Divisions (from West to East, they are Niagara Frontier, Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley, and Metropolitan). Each Division consists of 3-6 Chapters, and the Chapters in each Division help each other out with Installations and induction ceremonies, and get together for Division-level activities. Each Division elects a Master Councilor to help oversee these activities, and a Division Executive Officer is in charge of running that Division (reporting to Dad Bill Sardone, the current Executive Officer).

At its annual Convention in August, New York elects state officers (the current State Master Councilor is Andrew Roberts). In recent years, the Convention has been held at college campuses, with a focus on sports. Other state activities include Grand Master's Class, LeadCon, and Winterfest.

New York DeMolay has one of the best Alumni programs in the country. The Alumni have sponsored the Convention hospitality room, held charity fundraisers, and hold an annual Hall of Fame dinner to honor distinguished Senior DeMolays from New York.

New York DeMolay is known for a high spirit of brotherhood, so the next time you're up here, you'll always be welcome at a Chapter!

Special thanks go out to "Dad" Greg Schaeffer, PMC-MSA of Elizabethtown Chapter, and current Director of Ritual for New York DeMolay, for this article. Many of you may know "Dad" Schaeffer from his involvment in the Key Man Conference as its Director. What you may not know is that "Dad" Schaeffer is a Guitar Hero Master, recovering band geek, and bar coded human drone for IBM. Well, drone might be going a little far, but he does work for IBM. Also, he can beat you in DDR. Don't even try.