Interview with the Grand Master of Illinois

by Midnight Freemason Contributors:
Bro. Wayne Greenley
Robert H. Johnson, PM

Anthony R. Cracco, Most Worshipful Grand Master Ancient Free & Accepted
Masons of the state of Illinois.
Quite a while ago, Bro. Wayne approached me about doing a couple of interviews, but not just any interviews. He said, "Robert, let's interview our Grand Masters, see the two messages they have." I though to myself, that's insane, these are Grand Masters, they don't have time for that sort of thing. But, we went for it anyway. Needless to say, both the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Illinois, Tony Cracco and the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Queensland, Dr Gary Bacon said "Sure!". I was stunned. So Wayne got to work with some interview questions, standard stuff really, but questions which cut to the heart of who these gents are, where they've been and to see their vision for our beloved craft. Below is the transcript of the interview with Most Worshipful Grand Master, Tony Cracco. I hope you enjoy. A special thanks goes out to GM Tony for doing this, I know how busy you are. We appreciate it immensely. Laid out here are seven questions and seven answers...

1. When were you first initiated?

GM Tony: I was initiated as an Entered Apprentice in November 1990.

2. Why did you become a Freemason?

GM Tony: I sought out Masonry as an opportunity to provide greater guidance to my life (including getting access to gentlemen who could provide wise counsel and direction), an opportunity to make lifelong friends, and a desire to give back to the people and community around me.

3. What does Freemasonry mean to you?

GM Tony: Our Gentle Craft provides the foundation to help quality men acquire genuine fraternal relationships as Brothers and friends. The knowledge acquired through the study of our Masonic history, the Ritual and other instructional material makes us different in a good way; by incorporating the wisdom of the ages into our daily lives, we can’t help but grow and develop into better men. Also, the ability through the several charitable efforts of our ancient and honorable fraternity to ‘relieve the suffering of others’ is a part of the timeless commitment that we have as Masons both towards our Masonic Family and the broader community.

4. What are your favorite memories being in the lodge?

GM Tony: As both a past Certified Lodge Instructor and Grand Lecturer, the excellent display of our degree work and other ceremonies that make a lasting impression are amongst my favorite. Our unique methods of instruction that have gone significantly unchanged for centuries is beautiful to watch and participate in. Basically, passing on Masonry to new Brothers and reconnecting with old friends through the many lodge activities will continue to be highlights of my experience as a Brother of our wonderful fraternity.
5. If you could go back in time and witness any Masonic event, what would you choose?

GM Tony: I would choose the laying of the cornerstone for the United States Capital. At such a historic event, to stand with Brothers like George Washington and the many shapers of our current way of life in America would be an exceptional experience. To experience firsthand the wisdom of these men acquired in part by their experience in Masonry would have been a genuine honor. As Masons, they promoted the many new freedoms that shape our country today. That time in our Masonic history in this country was a time of pride, visibility in the public and living daily the commitments made in our Masonic obligations.

6. How much of a difference do you feel you have made to (your jurisdictions) Freemasonry?

GM Tony: As Grand Master of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois, it has been a privilege to serve our Illinois Masonic Family and the communities throughout the state that we positively impact. Like leaders of other large organizations, it takes a team of people to drive the success of our business and fraternal affairs in the state. By selecting talented Brothers, staff and volunteers to work on our several projects and operations, I’ve made a difference. By visiting lodges to promote the genuine care that we have for our Gentle Craft that has done so much for me and sharing that passion has inspired the positive actions of others. Through a continued reminder of the fundamental Commitment to one another as Brothers and the promotion of Civil behaviors has reconnected our jurisdiction to the more fundamental components of Masonry. Next, I continue to advocate the balance in both written and verbal communications about the elements of our fraternity that are timeless while similarly challenging us to translate our significant Masonic value to the current age through new communication mediums like video and Social Media. From this last point, we are seeing a positive response from our current Brothers and new men showing interest in Illinois Masonry.

7. What is your message to future Brothers?

GM Tony: Masonry is a time tested and honorable way of life. Though centuries old, our fraternity has demonstrated a flexibility to deliver clear value to the Brothers across those many years. Through our ancient and honorable fraternity, you will find unique fraternal relationships and have several opportunities to experience genuine fellowship. You will grow and develop as a man and Mason through the active study and teaching of the ‘wisdom of the ages’ which is part of our Stewardship to convey. You will join with like-minded men of various backgrounds to serve one another and the people around you through several opportunities to make a difference and contribute; fundamentally, to just Care for others. Overall, Masonry champions what is best in human behavior in how to live harmoniously and provides the means for passing along our Gentle Craft to future generations. Take good care of our timeless institution and translate its value into messages that your future generations will understand.

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed. I'll have Wayne's interview with his Grand Master in another piece coming soon. Wayne scored an audio version as well and we will feature it on the "Whence Came You? Masonic Podcast. Many thanks to all who contributed to get these special couple of pieces done, especially to the Grand Masters and of course, our Aussie correspondent, Bro Greenley!


Bro. Wayne Greenley is member of Mount Pleasant Lodge No. 361 and research lodge Barron Barnett Lodge No 146 both holding under the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Currently he is studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Business at QUT. In his spare time he likes to read, listen to music and research the Craft. He is looking forward to joining other orders when he’s permitted to in the next year and also to soon begin his journey through the progression of officers starting off with the Inner Guard.

Bro. Robert Johnson, PM is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He also serves as the Education officer for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

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