Our Opportunities in Masonry

Every Relationship In Masonry Is a Part of a Greater Whole – It Helps Us to Define Ourselves.

By: Thomas L. Schenk
Grand Master of Masons in New Mexico

Thomas L. Schenk Grand Master of Masons in New Mexico

To the Brethren of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Mexico,

The following is just a part of the Grand Masters Address that will be given at the 2024 Annual Communication March 14th – 16th, 2024. I wanted to share it with those who will not be able to make the journey.

Good morning,

I want to welcome you to the 147th Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of New Mexico, here in the beautiful village of Ruidoso, New Mexico. I hope that each of you and your families are having a great and memorable time. Our host, The Inn of the Mountain Gods wish the same. Thank you for making the trip and taking part in our annual celebration and supporting our Fraternity.

I would especially like to thank our visiting Brethren from other Jurisdictions for being here, you are truly Travelers of the Craft. Finally, let us offer a special thanks to all our spouses, families and friends who stand by us and support all that we do. If not for them, it would not be possible.

So please sit back, relax and enjoy what Ruidoso, The Inn of the Mountain Gods and the Sacramento Mountains of Lincoln County New Mexico have to offer. Rekindle old friendships and feel the warmth of new ones… most of all, rest and relax.

On April 14th, 2000, I knocked, and the door of Freemasonry was opened unto me. During the eventful ceremony of initiation, I was told that one day “even the purple of our Fraternity may rest upon your honored shoulders”. I can honestly say that thought has always been the furthest thing from my mind. I just wanted to get through that evening, gather my belongings, and go home. Throughout the next day, all I could think of is “what have I got myself into?”

As time went on, I found myself being drawn to my Lodge, and wanting to be around those in attendance. The Masons who took me in seemed so knowledgeable and were always as ready to give as much as I was willing to receive. One man stood out, and not only did he become my idol if but he also became my mentor, my masonic idol, if you will. I would be remised if I did not mention him in this, my Grand Masters Address. WB Warren Wheeler of Bandera Lodge No. 1123 in Bandera, Texas, not only taught me the ritual, but he also taught me all the how’s and why’s of Freemasonry.

Brother Warren and his wife Doreen were ranchers, and between their two families they had thousands of Texas hill country acres. The two of us would climb into his pickup every other afternoon and drive the various pastures and I would learn the ritual. Most Saturdays Doreen would pack us lunch and we would head out early, at times it would take hours to cross that ranch, idling along in that old green Ford, going over our masonic work. On occasion another brother would ride with us, and we would take turns practicing. He would learn a part in a degree, or go over a conferral, then I would recite my proficiencies. This practice would go on for months, one Degree at a time. Every trip we would return to the house and Doreen would ask, “how did it go?”, and Warren would say “good, but he is not quite there yet, needs a little more practice”.

One Sunday after driving the ranch, we returned to the Wheeler house, dinner was ready, and Doreen invited me to stay just as she had always done before. Warren went to wash up, then step outside to have a quick smoke. It was then that Doreen let me in on a hidden secret. She told me that she heard that I was ready to turn in my Master Mason proficiency months ago, and that the only reason Warren was taking his time was because he wanted somebody else to have to open all those gates at the ranch, instead of him, and that it didn’t look like he was going to have another candidate for quite a while! Regardless of what she said, I never told him, I just enjoyed our rides.

Warren is long gone, and so are all those other brothers who rode with us, but their memory, and the times we had live on in my thoughts. It is through those kinds of close fraternal relationships we build the ties that last a lifetime.

Since moving to New Mexico, I have been able to build those very same relationships. Freemasonry is a universal language and a way of life. Over the past twenty years the Masons of New Mexico have given me the same knowledge and opportunities that I received in the front seat of that old pickup. In fact, more. In Texas, with a membership so large, I felt like a number. In New Mexico, here, we all have a name. Since the first time I walked through the door of Ruidoso No. 73, the first time I attended a New Mexico Annual Communication, and to this very date, it has felt like home, and I am forever grateful.

Grand Lodge of New Mexico Officers 2023-2024
Grand Lodge of New Mexico Officers 2023-2024

I stand here before you as Grand Master, not because of my accomplishments, but because of yours. Each one of you has taken the time to shed light to a brother who was simply seeking it. You have taught me what it is to be a Freemason and I hope I have lived up to your expectations. This past year, and the years before having been the most rewarding challenge I have ever faced. I will always carry those rewards with me, even if I am called to that Spiritual Building above.

Thank you all for giving me that opportunity.

This entire Annual Communication will be held here, at the Inn of the Mountain Gods. A Grand Masters Reception will be on Thursday night, a Public Opening Ceremony with introductions Friday morning, lunches Friday afternoon for both the men and our ladies, followed by a banquet with an awards ceremony that evening. And don’t forget the Hospitality Room in the Cochise Presidential Suite on the sixth floor, just another way to enjoy each other’s fellowship and say thank you too all.

The Ladies luncheon scheduled for Friday is sure to be a great time. My wife Shirley has food, fun and refreshments planned for all the attendees. The ladies have been told to bring a favorite photo or screenshot of their favorite Mason. A contest will be had with prizes awarded and sure to draw a lot of attention!

There will be a Silent Auction at the Banquet Friday night featuring wonderful items donated by Brethren and businesses of the community to help benefit our Annual Communication Fund.

The past six years have been incredible, words alone can’t even begin to explain the journey you have allowed me to take as an officer, and most recently Grand Master. There is also not enough space in one paragraph to even begin to tell this amazing story. Each year has been a tremendous learning experience, you have given me the opportunity to travel from Lodge to Lodge, year after year, and meet each one of you. Every time I left a Lodge, I was able to take a little bit of it with me, not only in knowledge, but also a little bit of its spirit. Each Lodge brought something new to my journey. Every Brother taught me something along the way.
You have shown me that our Grand Lodge truly meets on the Level and treats all its members equally with both love and respect. There is an opportunity out there for all of us to succeed and lead, all that is required is to stand up and take charge. I encourage everyone to do it, especially if you have the desire deep inside.

In closing, all I can say is thank you for making it happen. I am forever indebted to this Grand Lodge and will spend the rest of my days serving it in every capacity that I am able.

March 2024

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