359.5 Miles, Late-Night Brotherhood & Education

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian Schimian

Many months ago, the (First Annual) Masonic Education Symposium, hosted by Pleiades Lodge #478 in Westchester, IL., was announced and tickets made available online.  Almost immediately, I and a few other writers here at The Midnight Freemasons jumped onboard with the idea of attending and secured our seats for the day.  But that was certainly some time ago and I don’t think any of us could have foreseen what was to become of that weekend.

The schedule for the day, as it was advertised, made for a day that we all looked forward to.  Presentations were to be given by: Bro. Anthony Mongelli (LaGuardia Lodge #1130, GL of New York), Bro. Charles Harper (Pleiades Lodge # 478, GL of Illinois) and R.W. Bro. Robert Herd (Enlightenment Lodge #198, GL of Colorado).  The day would be topped off with a Festive Board and Keynote Speech by R.W. Bro. Mir Omar Ali (Illumination Lodge #5, GL of Illinois).

But before that was to begin, a truly exciting thing was to happen that would begin to push the weekend over the top before it even got started.  Bro. Aaron Gardner finished his enlistment with the United States Army and began his trek home from Oklahoma to Michigan as a civilian for the first time in 8 years.  On his journey, he planned to “swing by” the area north of Chicago and meet up with Bro. Johnson for breakfast.  Given that this would be a little more than out of the way, the suggestion was offered to Bro. Gardner to just spend the night at Bro. Johnson’s home.  Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, the next day, there is a Masonic Educational Symposium at Pleiades Lodge, where a few fellow writers were planning on attending!

“Sometimes, things just have a way of coming together.” - Bro. Robert Johnson.

Left to right; Bro. Rob Walk Jr.,
Bro. Robert Johnson, Bro. Aaron Gardner,
Bro. Brian Schimian
With this new development, I changed my plans from traveling to and from the event in one day to making half the trip and also staying the night at the “Johnson Masonic Hotel” (as Lady Cori Johnson called it).  Not only is it always a pleasure seeing the Johnson family, but they could not be more welcoming and truly a blessing to all that they meet.  Needless to say, the Brotherhood began to flow and did not end until well after 2 AM.  The very same day that we had to be up and moving early, it was proposed that we just roll with it and stay up, but we hit the sack to get a few hours of rest for the Symposium.  The next morning, we loaded up and headed out for a day full of Masonry.  Bro. Rob Walk had made the journey all the way from Maryland to join us for the day.  Four of the Midnight Freemasons together in the same Lodge Room at once.

I have to say, the Brethren of Pleiades Lodge hit the ball out of the park with their event.  W.M. Bro. Stephen Valle and his Education Committee has set the bar high and issued the challenge to the Officers of Pleiades Lodge coming up behind him, to continue this event in the years ahead.

Bro. Anthony Mongelli spoke on symbology, specifically the Point Within the Circle.  Bro. Charles Harper spoke on the Cultural Relativism in the Craft today.  R.W. Bro. Robert Herd educated those in attendance on Leadership.  Between the presentations and the comments/questions as well as the side conversations had between the Brethren that filled the sidelines, I have no doubt in my mind that the future of “this thing of ours” will be great.

The day was completed by with a Festive Board and Keynote speech by R.W. Bro. Mir Omar Ali.  The Brotherhood shared by those that traveled in from all across the Country for the day was amazing.  Our hosts for the day laid out a wonderful spread of meal for us to enjoy.  And yes, no Masonic meal is complete without green beans.  There were toasts to the Craft, our Brethren and more.  If you have not had the opportunity to experience a Festive Board, I highly recommend it! 

There is a movement within the Craft that is revitalizing Freemasonry and taking it from the “ho hum” meetings of reading the previous minutes and paying the bills, to exploring the deeper meanings of the Working Tools and our history.  There is a need and want for Masonic Education that is almost palpable within the Lodge room that is being fed by Brethren like those listed above by traveling and sharing their research, by my fellow writers here at the Midnight Freemasons, by the writers at publications like The Working Tools and The Living Stones magazines.  This is “Our” Craft, Brothers.  It is “Ours” to do with.  Let us make the most of it and spread the knowledge, bring others from darkness into the light.  I am challenging every Brother to ravel in Foregoing Lands and earn the Master’s Wage.  I that promise you will not be disappointed.  Remember that it is not the beginning or the end.  The Opening or Closing.  The experience is the Journey.  Even in the literal traveling to and from events, there are no dull moments, I have only reach for the radio in the truck to turn the volume down so as not to have the conversations interrupted.

Thank You to the Brethren of Pleiades Lodge #478 for hosting this wonderful event.

Thank You to Bro. Anthony Mongelli, Bro. Charles Harper, R.W. Bro. Robert Herd and R.W. Bro. Mir Omar Ali for their presentations.  Each of you stand as Exemplars of what is needed in Freemasonry.

Thank You to the Brethren that traveled to this event and made it all that it was and validating what so many of us are trying to accomplish in Masonry today.

Thank You to Bro. Walk for making the journey to be with us, it is always a pleasure to spend time with you and to finally sit in Lodge with you.

Thank You to my traveling partners for the day, Bro. Gardner & Bro. Johnson.  Truly never a dull moment.


Bro. Brian Schimian is Life of Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter in 1995. Brian is a father of two children."Start Square, Finish Level"

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