[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: April 2003

From: <DonnNate@aol.com>
Subject: Page About Freemasonry Guest Book

>        Name:: Nadine Joseph Kovar
>      E-mail:: DonnNate@aol,com
>    Location:: Wilmette/Il.USA
>
>     Message:: Info re: college scholarships for descendents of Harry
> Joseph member of John Carson Lodge #944 in Chicago, Il. This concerns
> his great grandson, a Wisconsin resident.I have further info if desired.

Thank you for writing to ask about this. This kind of question comes up often, and I'm grateful for a chance to explain the situation.

It's true that some lodges do give scholarships to children (and sometimes grandchildren) of current members, and have for many years. But some things have changed in the last few decades, as I will try to explain.

In your grandfather's day, a much greater percentage of men were Masons or members of other fraternal societies. We sometimes say that "Everyone's grandfather was a Mason," and in most parts of the country, that was pretty much true! So what's changed since then? These days lodges are much smaller. For instance, the great-grandson you are writing about: is his own father a Mason? Are any of his father's brothers or friends Masons? Are any of your brothers a Mason? Your father? Your uncles? Have any of them been regularly contributing over the years to any lodge for its charitable activities?

So you can see from your own evidence that Masonry is smaller in numbers than it used to be. It is this current smaller Masonry that must support whatever scholarship programs there may be, but it's not a secret money-bucket, merely the contributions of the participating members.

According to public grand lodge figures, Masons in the US still manage to donate, on average, two millions dollars to charity every day. That the lodges and their members can accomplish this even as membership numbers decline is, I think, remarkable. But even so, most lodges would be hard-pressed to provide for all the descendants of all their former members.

You could, and I think should, contact the Grand Lodge of Illinois for help getting in touch with John Carson #944. If the lodge is still in existence, the Grand Lodge would have the address and phone number of the Master and the Secretary of the lodge. Those lodge officers could tell you if the lodge still offers scholarships. But when you do, please keep in mind my explanation that it is difficult for lodges to offer scholarships for their own members, not even counting distant descendants.

I hope you will understand. Best of luck.


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| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA (PM)
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