The Shriner´s Magic.

Brother Wayne Kelly

President of the Shrine Recorders Association International.

Brethren all,
My name is Brother Wayne Kelly, I am the Recorder at Khedive Shrine Center located in Chesapeake, VA, USA, and the president of the Shrine Recorders Association International, assisting with 200 Shrine Centers around the world, and Member of Bavaria Lodge 935.

I have been asked today to be the ambassador, or better yet, the testimonial of a somehow almost magical aspect of our Masonic Brotherhood.
Please don´t be alarmed, I am not going to get into wild speculations (that is reserved to our youngest members on our Lodge´s monthly zoom call)
However, while we often hear doubts about the relevance that our rituals and that our moral landmarks might have in our present society, let me take this chance to tell you about the power that Masonic principles can have when they manifest into the society that surrounds us.
The Shriners International is probably one of the best examples of “this kind of magic.”
The Shriners International started in 1870 from a group of NY based Freemasons that wanted to try “something different” : Fun and fellowship, something that the brethren felt was sorely missing, this became their focus while ironically at the same time the World was quickly approaching a century of tumultuous changes that will design and redesign many times its map.
Two of them were the main architects of this “new way” of being a Mason: Walter M. Fleming a surgeon and a physician and William J. Florence a well-known actor.

Brother Florence, as the story goes, was invited to a party given by an Arab diplomat.
The entertainment was a musical comedy. At its conclusion, the guests became members of a secret society. Florence took notes and drawings at his initial viewing and on two other occasions, once in Algiers and once in Cairo. When he returned to New York in 1870, he showed his material to Fleming.
Fleming created the ritual, emblems and costumes. And that´s how the Shriners started, initially with 12 members, on their adventure.
What is remarkable about The Shriners is the fact that the story didn´t stop there!
It didn´t take us long after our foundation to realize that “Fun and fellowship” cannot be the only catalyst for a group of people of goodwill: to thrive you need a goal! And that´s why, 50 years after that night in New York, in 1922 we opened our first hospital for children in Shreveport Louisiana. The first of many of course, today we have 21 Hospitals in the Americas!
To you my Brn, from the experience of 43 Years in masonry and 29 years in the Shrine: whenever in doubts invest in our Children! it has worked marvels for us and I am sure that, once adapted to the very different European social landscape, it could help our Brotherhood to find a new purpose and a new way to grow.
Thank you very much for this invitation and to each of you for your time.

Brother Wayne Kelly.

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