The Nobles have bestowed upon me the greatest honour of being elected as your Potentate and I look forward to working with you all. I know how much work it takes to get to this position, and I will never take that responsibility lightly. I have experienced disappointments in my personal life, in policing, and in Freemasonry. But I learned that “experience is what you gain when you don’t get what you want”. No matter what project I was assigned to, no matter what the results were, I gained experience to prepare me to do better work, to give better advice, and to assist others to do a better job in the advancement of Rameses Shrine. But I cannot do it alone.
Several years ago, I met a couple, and we soon became good friends. I had the honour and privilege following him through the chairs of the Elected Divan. Shawn and Ann, you are a very special couple. At the beginning of this journey, being a widower, Ann Snider-Hewlett and Marilyn Carrique said they will be there to assist me. And they were true to their words. Just as a reminder, I have another year to go, it’s not over yet.
Illustrious Sir Shawn Hewlett, it was a difficult year, but you pulled it off. Thank you for your service, your leadership, and your friendship. Congratulations to Noble John Slessor on being elected as our Oriental Guide. Welcome to you and Lady Barbara. Looking forward to working with you in 2022.
I have served on the Divan for four years. Two years pre-COVID-19 and two years with COVID-19. And the last two years have not been easy for Rameses Shriners. We have been through a lot and unfortunately it is not over. But I am very optimistic we can beat this once and for all. If we just follow what works. Continue to keep our hands sanitized, social distancing, wearing an approved mask properly and get vaccinated.
The Divan has always stated that all local, Provincial, and Federal health regulations must be followed, and that any Rameses’ restrictions apply only in addition to those other restrictions.
Let me take your mind back to when you were initiated into Masonry. You promised to pay due obedience to the laws of Canada/Ontario and fulfill the duties of a good citizen and set the example for others to emulate.
Therefore, in continuing Illustrious Sir Shawn Hewlett’s past edict, until this pandemic is officially declared over, to be an officer of a Club or Unit, accept a position as an Ambassador, or attend any function as a Shriner, the Noble shall be fully vaccinated accordingly to Provincial standards. It is all about health and safety, not one’s personal rights. If you don’t want to be inoculated, fine it is your choice and we will respect that, but as per the government restrictions, don’t expect to attend a Shrine function.
Key Messages. During my year term as Potentate, under the guidance of our By-Laws, I intend to set three priorities:
(1) Communication, with a focus on a strong branding of Shriners, especially Rameses; (2) Motivation of existing Nobles; and
(3) A constant reminder of the need of the Nobles to achieve life balance so that they will be able to be good Shriners, always striving to be better.
Communication. Illustrious Sir Shawn Hewlett wrote: “Change is needed now, because the way we have been doing things is not working. It is no longer good enough to say, ‘Well that’s the way we have always done it, or in my year that’s the way I did it.’” (Papyrus, Volume 42, Number 5).
Rameses, like most fraternal organizations, are experiencing a shortage of candidates. Year after year all I have been hearing is the need to attract candidates, either with face-to-face contact or by social media. I am not certain that is our real problem. And once they join, what do you do for them? Our problem is retention of Nobles! Yes, attracting new candidates is part of it, but we need to look after our current Nobles too, and give them something to keep their interest in Shriners so becoming an active participant. Utilize their skills, knowledge, and interests. And it comes down to communication.
While travelling within our jurisdiction, the message was loud and clear. We need to improve our timely communications between Rameses HQ and our Members/Clubs/Units. We cannot wait until the last minute to answer their questions. It may be small to you, but it is very important to others. I know some think withholding information they believe they have something over you, thus the term: “knowledge is power”! That’s not going to happen.
We need to improve our communication with the Nobles especially those who don’t belong to a Club or Unit. While we encourage all Nobles to join a Club or Unit, there are situations in which a Noble does not belong to a Club or Unit. They are still Rameses Shriners and they need to be informed.
I plan on sharing more information regularly with our Ambassadors. As Potentate, with the assistance of our Recorder, we will be hosting a minimum of five virtual meetings with our Ambassadors. They are tentatively scheduled to be held in January, March, May, September, and November. Ambassadors, it’s critical that you step up and lead, mentor and educate our newest Nobles and certainly our Club officers!
Motivation. Likewise, it is critical that Past Potentates retain, renew, and revitalize their roles. Being a Past Potentate is not like graduating from university. You attend, you learn, you graduate, and you’re gone! No one said being a Past Potentate (or a Past President) was an easy position – it takes work – and your work is not done! Rameses needs your extensive experience for training junior Nobles. Junior Nobles should not be training new Nobles. As a Past Potentate, or a Past President, if you had to describe yourself as a “wood”, what type would you be? Are you a driftwood, a deadwood, or a hardwood? Let me explain. Those who are deadwoods are the ones we never see again after they leave office. Those who are driftwoods are the ones who only come out for special occasions. Those who are the hardwood are those leaders who are always there, ready to assist, help and teach. We need our past leaders as the hardwood of Rameses to prepare our Nobles to be the future leaders at the Divan level.
In Craft Lodges, we have Past Masters meetings. In Craft Districts, we have Past Grand Lodge Officers meetings, and we do have regular Past Grand Masters meetings. So why don’t we have regular Past Potentates Meetings? I will be holding Past Potentate meetings. We will be holding a minimum of four virtual and one face-to-face. They are tentative scheduled in February, March, May, September, and face-to-face meeting will be in October. I am encouraging the ‘unwritten policy’ that the immediate Past Potentate stay in the shadow for a year is abolished. To me he has vast untapped knowledge we can benefit and capitalize on especially in membership. It’s not about me or my year. The goal is sharing knowledge and experience.
Life Balance. I would also ask you to consider your life balance. Ask yourself, “How is my life?”, because if it is not balanced, you cannot give Rameses your best. I know what it is like to suddenly lose someone you truly love, and I urge you to appreciate your family. If you’re not a good father, husband, brother, friend or son, chances are you won’t be a good Shriner. Remember your health, family, and work obligations. Then work hard for Rameses. Live life wide and stay in balance.
“STRENGTH IN FAMILY”