GEORGE J. BIBILOS
TROWEL, SPRING 2011
From TROWEL, Spring 2011, Page 5:
Rt. Wor. George John Bibilos was appointed by Grand Master, Most Worshipful Richard James Stewart to serve as his deputy for 2011. This critical position is ranked second highest among Massachusetts Masons. Rt. Wor. Bro. Bibilos periodically acted as Grand Master, when the Grand Master was out of the jurisdiction.
Brother Bibilos was raised in 1990 in Golden Rule Lodge; he was elected Master in 1999, and he was presented the Joseph Warren Distinguished Service Medal in 2010. He is also a member of Converse Lodge, The Massachusetts Lodge, Wyoming Lodge and The Masters Lodge, as well as an Honorary Member of William Sutton Lodge. He is a Past Master of the Massachusetts Lodge of Research. In 2011, he was presented the Henry Price Medal by Most Worshipful Richard James Stewart, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts.
Rt. Wor. Bro. Bibilos has served Grand Lodge in a number of positions; he was District Deputy Grand Master for the 13th Masonic District for 2004–2005; a member of the Membership Committee since 2006, and its chairman in 2008; chairman of the Education and Training Committee in 2009; a member of the Protocol Committee since 2009; and dean of MLI’s M. W. Donald W. Vose Class. He is the Grand Representative for Cyprus. In 2010, Rt. Wor. Bro. Bibilos was elected to the Board of Directors for a three year term.
He belongs to several York Rite bodies including Reading Royal Arch Chapter, Orient Council, St. Bernard Commandery and Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis. He is also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Boston, Aleppo Shrine, and Tontoquon Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star.
Bro. Bibilos and his wife live in Melrose with their four children. He is a human resource administrator at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Human Resource Division.
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 2010
From Proceedings, Page 2010-218: Speech at the Feast of St. John, December 27, 2010
Looking Back and Moving Forward: 20 Years of Masonry
It is a pleasure to be here at the Feast of Saint John this evening as one big Masonic Family celebrating the installation of the 2011 Grand Officers, but in particular the beginning of the term of our newly installed Grand Master, Most Worshipful Richard James Stewart. I am deeply honored to have been asked to serve as our new Grand Master’s first Deputy Grand Master and I offer him my heartfelt thanks for this opportunity to furtherserve our Grand Lodge.
I would be remiss if I did not begin this address without first acknowledging two Masons who could not be here tonight. The first is my father, Brother John George Bibilos, who came to Masonry late in life as a one day candidate for Golden Rule Lodge. Dad enjoyed attending lodge and wished he had joined earlier in life. Unfortunately Dad passed away seven years ago next week. The second is my father-in-law Brother Robert Ralph Khouri who was a couple years shy of being a 50 year veteran member at West Roxbury-Dorchester Lodge when he was called home this past August. Fortunately he lived to see hisson and namesake raised in his lodge this past spring. I dedicate this year to these two men and brothers whom I miss very much.
The title for my address tonight is “Looking Back and Moving Forward: 20 Years of Masonry.”
Twenty years ago tonight a brother you should all know made the following remarks:
'In order to meet the [membership] challenge we must look to strong leadership… Today we must stand ready to react to the changing times by focusing on what is good for the fraternity as we approach the 21st century and do so without lowering the standards by which our great fraternity has been guided over the past centuries… Yes indeed times have changed. Our leadership today and in the future must be able to focus and refocus on the types of programs which will attract new members. They must take a hard look into programs within our communities by which the Masonic Fraternity will be looked up to, thereby creating a strong desire for a man to want to be associated with the fraternity. They must utilize the many talents of the membership in running and managing the fraternity…Today my brethren we must be able to compete in a highly competitive market place of leisure time by offering men good, solid, worthwhile reasons as to why they should consider becoming a Master Mason.'
Who made these remarks twenty years ago? He was then our Deputy Grand Master and now our newly installed Grand Master, Most Worshipful Richard Stewart. Yet, while it is certainly interesting to note who made the remarks, what is important is that they are as relevant today as they were twenty years ago.
Twenty years – where does the time go?
Twenty years ago last month at Golden Rule Lodge in Wakefield I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason along with one of my best friends, Worshipful Brother Eric Rzepka. Back then, the lodge was run by a strong clique of Past Masters. At Golden Rule Lodge we affectionately referred to these brothers as “the Ayatollahs” and clearly in November of 1990 when we were raised, we entered during the reign of the Old Guard, where Right Worshipful Brother Stewart Irving Ryder and his allies ran the lodge. They controlled the key offices, the Board of Trustees and the Building Association.
These men were primarily from the World War II generation – the Greatest Generation - whose sons in the Boomer generation had in large part not answered the call of Freemasonry. Although some might argue Freemasonry itself failed to make the call to this generation. Either way, if there was ever a conservative organization for the boomers to rebel against it was certainly Freemasonry and as a result the fraternity turned inward, became overly protective and stagnant.
Eric and I joined the line at Golden Rule Lodge in the fall of 1991. We were two generation X’ers that would start the slow demise of the Old Guard. Sadly, as we moved up the line, the scythe of time was starting to catch up to these men and accelerating their demise as well. By the time I was installed as Master in 1999 the lodge was clearly in flux with many of the old timers having passed or no longer able to attend lodge. But to make matters worse we were not engaging what new members we were bringing in like we needed to and as a result many became inactive and demitted. Golden Rule Lodge has been fortunate that through our 122 year history we have never recycled a Master, but by 1999, it was becoming more and more of a challenge.
As the first member who was raised in Golden Rule Lodge to become a permanent member of our Grand Lodge, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the men that came before me and that I came to know during my first twenty years in Masonry. It was because of these men that, despite some of the challenges they may have posed to growing membership, they kept the faith, they had a passion for the craft, and they carried the flame of Freemasonry during some tough times.
I remember Worshipful Brother Ernie Foss who was Master in the mid 1970’s, whose family runs the Ox Bow Pet Shop in Wakefield. Worshipful Brother Foss was a long time Chaplain of the lodge and was fighting cancer during my tenure as Master. I would visit him at his home and he would be in his rocking chair, bundled up with blankets and quilts and he would talk forever about the lodge and how we needed to keep the lodge going. I remember the day I went to visit Ernie and his wife Priscilla told me I couldn’t go up and a few days later I got the call he had passed. After his Masonic service I gave Priscilla a hug and she gave me Ernie’s Past Master’s Jewel, which I proudly wore for 10 years.
I remember Worshipful Brother Alex Olsen who served as Master in the early 1990’s and died far too young from cancer. Worshipful Brother Olsen lived in Brockton and could no longer manage to get up to Wakefield, so we sought and received a dispensation to hold our meeting in Brockton. His son-in-law, Worshipful Brother Mike Petz did a magnificent rendition of the middle chamber that night, the same night I was also elected Master of the lodge. At the end of a very poignant meeting we all greeted Worshipful Brother Alex and to all of us he conveyed a very simple message – “Enjoy life.” It was moments like this that the meaning of Masonry really hit home.
Finally, I remember Worshipful Brother George Pedersen, who was Master of the lodge in the mid 1970’s. He passed away a few years ago and in many respects he was the last of the Old Guard. He could drive the officers crazy, by inserting himself into different matters, but he did it because he cared. When I visited him at the Wingate Nursing home in Reading like many of the others of the old guard he spoke fondly of the lodge and wanted to make sure Golden Rule Lodge would continue its proud march into the future.
I am pleased to say that we are making that proud march into the future. In fact that march started to really pick up in 2005 with the launch of our fraternity’s aggressive membership drive. A challenge to all men to find their inner greatness was issued and continues to this day, with thousands of men having answered that call. It was then when we finally started to see the long-awaited backfills for the Old Guard. The new members we are bringing in are in large part much younger – with the millenials (those born after 1980) representing a large proportion of this membership wave. They are a generation ready to be engaged and be a part of something that has real value and meaning.
At long last we are finally starting to see the wheel turn in our efforts to grow membership. The last three years alone we have brought in close to 5,000 new members. We are seeing new lodges being chartered and we are seeing lodges that had disappeared from the roll of Grand Lodge emerge from the darkness and be reconstituted. The average age of our fraternity has dropped from close to 70 to closer to 60 and in lodge after lodge we see the new younger membership taking the reins of command and the remaining old guard finally seem to be willing to head to the backbenches and yield to the future of the craft. These new younger members are re-energizing their lodges and re-introducing the lodges back into the communities by participating in town days, marching in parades, holding MYCHIP programs, blood drives, food drives, recycling initiatives and holiday toy drives, as well as creating a growing presence on the web and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
We see the new members flocking to new Grand Lodge programs such as the Master Mason Rookie Award program, the Beyond the Third Degree program and the new Massachusetts Lodge of Research. The Masonic Leadership Institute that was created in 1997 has yielded many new leaders for our fraternity and accomplished many great things such as the Independence Lodge, Team Freedom and the Masonic Troop Support Program as well as Worshipful Brother Leo Kenen’s successful Masonic Coin Program which has yielded our Grand Lodge Scholarship Program approximately $25,000.00.
Twenty years ago, our Grand Master made a clarion call for strong leadership and called upon the craft to face up to the challenges we faced as a Fraternity. He challenged us to prove our worth to our members and prospective new members and emphasized the critical need to set these men to work – all while not lowering our standards. As we witness the continued turnaround in our membership and the revitalization of our lodges this message from twenty years ago seems to be resonating.
Freemasonry is a wonderful journey where we meet so many good people and one I have enjoyed these past twenty years. So where does this journey take us moving forward? How many Massachusetts Freemasons will there be in twenty years? What will the face of Freemasonry look like in the future as the diversity of this nation continues to enrich our fraternity? Will we have done everything we could to position our fraternity to not only survive, but to grow and prosper moving forward? Will we continue to be a trailblazer in terms of new programs and membership development? Will we remain committed to making sure the Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Masons remains a premier Grand Lodge or do we slip to mediocrity? Brethren, it is you and I in this room who will play a large part in determining how these questions are answered – so let’s re-double our efforts to make sure we get these answers right.
Remember this, that while Freemasonry is a fraternity, it is also a customer based business and it is our individual members who are our customers. The beautiful infrastructure and pageantry, the rich history, the deeply ingrained values, and long held traditions of this Grand Lodge have made this fraternity desirable to our revitalized membership and we must remain committed to maintaining these important features of our Grand Lodge. It is incumbent upon all of us as leaders of this business that these customers are satisfied and perceive a real value to being a Massachusetts Freemason. If we do this and continue to enrich our members’ Masonic experience, our fraternity will flourish and grow.
Brethren, the flame of Freemasonry has been reignited and it is up to all of us to spread the light of Freemasonry throughout the Commonwealth both now and into the future. Think of what we have accomplished the past several years and the great promise the future could hold for us. This is not a time for this Grand Lodge to turn back, but rather, we need to act consistent with the challenge we have issued to men across this great Commonwealth the past six years, and continue to seek our greatness as a Grand Lodge and move forward, aspiring to new heights.
In conclusion, I wanted to say as a Greek American that, we Greeks have a saying – Chronia Polla - which roughly means, may you have many years. So, tonight as we look back, and more importantly, move forward as a Fraternity, I say to all of you and our Grand Lodge – Chronia Polla - may you have many years.
Most Worshipful Grand Master and my brethren all, may the next twenty years be as an enjoyable journey as the last twenty have been and let me extend my best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year to all of you, your families and our fraternity.
CORNER STONE CEREMONY, TEMPLE AHAVAT ACHIM, GLOUCESTER, JUNE 2011
From Proceedings, Page 2011-44:
"As the Deputy Grand Master and acting presiding officer of close to 37,000 Masons representing more than 230 lodges throughout the Commonwealth - as well as in Panama, Chile, Japan, and the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – I bring you the warm fraternal greetings of the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, Richard James Stewart as well as my own. The Grand Master wishes he could have been here today to celebrate this joyous occasion, but is out of jurisdiction.
"I would like to thank the Jewish Community of Temple Ahavat Achim and the officers and members of Tyrian-Ashlar-Acacia Lodge, and in particular, those responsible for today’s events, for inviting the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts to present a cornerstone ceremony to celebrate this beautiful new temple that has been erected just three years after the former structure burned down.
"Today members of the Masonic and Jewish communities along with the community at large have come together to celebrate this wonderful occasion. Over the years Masonry has been fortunate to have many Jewish members of the craft, and probably one of the most prominent of them was Moses Michael Hays who helped establish the New England Masonic movement. Hays was a member of The Massachusetts Lodge in Boston and in 1788 he was elected Grand Master of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, with none other than Paul Revere serving as his Deputy Grand Master.
"Light is an important symbol in both Freemasonry and Judaism. One of the Jewish holidays is Chanukah, called the Festival of Lights, commemorating the victory of the Jewish people over those who had made the practice of the Jewish faith a crime punishable by death. Light is also an important symbol to members of the Masonic fraternity, who, believing in a higher being, are taught to subdue their passions and improve themselves in freemasonry by gaining more light and knowledge through the lessons taught in our degrees.
"One of the central symbols of Masonry is the Temple of Solomon, which also figured as the central part of the Jewish religion. King Solomon, one of the great figures in Jewish history, is also one of the most important figures in Masonic rituals, and the majority of that ritual is based on the building of Solomon's Temple.
"Finally, we find in both Judaism and Masonry a fundamental belief in the importance of continual learning and gaining more light, and this in part explains the reason for the continuity of Masonry and Judaism for centuries. For those who encourage education and learning insure the perpetuation of their ideals.
"Massachusetts Freemasonry dates back to 1733, when Henry Price – a tailor from London living in Boston – returned to Britain and received a charter from the Grand Lodge of England to organize the first Provincial Grand Lodge in the Americas. This precedent established the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as the oldest Grand Lodge in the Western Hemisphere and the third oldest in the world - a distinction everyone in Massachusetts, Masons and non Masons alike, should be very proud of.
"Freemasons belong to the world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization. As you will soon witness, we use the simple tools of ancient stonemasons – like the square and compasses, the trowel, plumb, and level – to teach our members with symbolism and allegory the tenets of friendship, charity, and morality. Throughout our history, these ideals inspired men like George Washington and thirteen other U.S. Presidents, author Mark Twain, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Astronaut and Senator John Glenn to achieve the greatness we recognize them for. Freemasonry has also helped develop greatness in countless men whose names are not as well known. And today, men throughout our Commonwealth are listening to our spokesperson, Brother Benjamin Franklin, who is asking “Is there Greatness in You?” And, I am pleased to say worthy men are responding by joining our Craft at a rate we have not seen in decades.
"Finally before we begin our ceremony let me take a moment to thank all of the Grand Officers, all of members of the Masonic fraternity and the many members of their families for turning out today to be a part of this special event. In addition, I would like to recognize Brother Richard Wise who served as the liaison between Grand Lodge, Tyrian-Ashlar-Acacia Lodge and Ahavat Achim Temple to make sure today goes off without a hitch. My thanks to all of you."
From TROWEL, Fall 2011, Page 29:
Masons Lay Temple Cornerstone in Gloucester
The legend of the Third Degree, one of our central Landmarks, is based upon the construction and preservation of the secrets of the building of Solomon’s Temple. The opportunity to attend the Masonic consecration of a modern temple is rare.
Approximately 200 Masons from all over Eastern Massachusetts assembled on a bright Sunday afternoon in June to do just that. They formed a grand procession marching through the streets of the North Shore fishing community of Gloucester to the site of the newly constructed Temple Ahavat Achim, where they performed perhaps our most impressive public ceremony: the consecration of a symbolic cornerstone.
The procession was headed by a full complement of Grand Lodge officers, led by R. W. George J. Bibilos, and followed by members of the Kilwinning Club, who set the solemn cadence of the march with their drummers and pipers. Next, serving as the Masonic guardians of the Temple, were a dozen officers of York Rite’s Knights Templar. The column was completed with the officers and past masters of The Tyrian-Ashler-Acacia Lodge, the host for the event, followed by a long train of officers and members from all over Massachusetts.
The grand procession took its final turn down Mason Street, so-named because the original Tyrian Lodge — fifth oldest in Massachusetts—originally met at Prentice’s Tavern, coincidentally only a few doors down from the present site of the new temple. The formal consecration, conducted on the ceremonial carpet, was performed by the Grand Lodge officers including Rt. Wor. Mason W. Russell, Rt. Wor. David E. Pace, Rt. Wor. Wayne M. Vinton, and Rt. Wor. Thomas A. Stark.
State Senator Bruce Tarr expressed the community’s admiration saying, “All who attended the cornerstone ceremony were impressed by the respect shown to our community and Temple Ahavat Achim by our Masonic brotherhood. Moreover, they were truly inspired by the pageantry and substance of a ritual flawlessly executed on a beautiful day in June. The day connected the importance of tradition, faith, and community spirit in all of our lives.”
Rt. Wor. William E Yanakakis summed up the meaning of the ceremony for individual Masons: “The citizens of Gloucester and the members of the Temple Ahavat Achim were treated to a glimpse of Masonry rarely seen outside of the lodge room. To have such a diverse group of men marching together — friendship, morality and brotherly love uniting them — was truly inspiring.”
—Bro. Richard Lance Wise