Saturday, November 16, 2019

Pizza, Ritual Performance Class, Ice Cream, Basketball, Video Games: LeadCon Day 1 is in the books!

Day 1 of LeadCon 2019 is in the books!

What a night it was!  We welcomed DeMolays from across the Great State of New York to the Masonic Care Community for them to learn, to bond, and to improve their DeMolay knowledge.  Sure it's 2:30AM and I should be in bed but I wanted to make sure I shared with all of you - our DeMolay Brothers, our Advisors, and our amazing supporters -what a great first night this was.

As young men arrived, the Masonic Care Community rolled out the red carpet. DeMolays were able to enjoy the world class fitness facility and play basketball and socialize before the welcoming pizza party.

The Pizza Party was amazing! Thanks to the incredible generosity of Jacques DeMolay Lodge UD young men had the best pizza that Utica, NY has to offer as well as much soda (pop for you westerners)  they could enjoy. For those of us old guys we had bottled water as well. Thank you to "Dad" Larson and "Dad" Alvarado for serving.

 Frequent readers of my writing know I *really* love the 4th Preceptor. We had it in full display tonight as young men from Mohawk Valley talked with young men from Washington talked to young men from Trinity talked to young men from Knickerbocker.  It was for me a master class in RPG and strategy game theory (Like how you play the game, not the advanced modeling). We also had a discussion about the fine art of cross checking in Lacrosse.

We kicked off our opening session with State Master Councilor Austin Altman and "Dad" Schneider.  I loved how our State Master Councilor talked about being open to new ideas, learning from other people and how attending LeadCons (and LTCs!) helped to shape him as a DeMolay leader. "Dad" Schneider, who we owe a huge debt of gratitude to for all of his work on the weekend talked about the expectations for all of our participants. I *loved* the way that he did this. He talked about how well the young men did it at convention and how he expects it to be done in the future. We then had a brief chat about zero tolerance and the brotherhood contract.

We are a youth driven organization and one of the ideas of the SEC this year was for us to have an ice cream social. So what do you do? You have an ice cream social! Chocolate, Vanilla, toppings, M&Ms you name it. Thank you to "Dad" Dais, "Dad" Brandt, "Dad" Schneider and I know I am missing someone so please correct me for serving the ice cream.

Our first formal class kicked off and that was ritual.  I'm pretty excited about the team we've assembled to lead ritual in the Empire State.  Co-teaching was "Dad" Craig Riha, "Dad" Tom Perry, and "Dad" Phillip Hurkala. They talked not only about the history of the ritual and why we do it, but also went trough pedagogical learning tricks. Our goal is every LeadCon attendee will make some progress towards learning ritual this weekend. Some of our guys are learning opening parts, some obligations, and still others  the preceptors.  I couldn't ask for a better trio of guys!  Afterward I heard snippets of young men practicing their parts and cracking up the ritual books.

After that, the brothers had the chance to play basketball, play video games, enjoy some pizza, or just to hang out.  I shared this on my facebook, page, but tonight we shattered a record: Not once in the history of NY DeMolay has a PR/EO every lost to the young men in basketball. I need to work harder.

Finally, I can't say enough awesome things about the MCC staff. From the security guards, to the director of first impressions, the culinary staff, the IT staff, Kathy Contino-Turner. Everyone has been amazing.

It's now 3:10 and I should be in bed, but  I can't wait for tomorrow


Thursday, November 14, 2019

A reflection on "Dad" Land by "Dad" Ricarte Abejuela III

A Reflection on "Dad" Land by "Dad" Ricarte Abejuela III

"To become big, we must be big" -- Dad Frank S. Land

In commemoration of Frank S. Land Day, I would like to focus on this important quote of Dad Land. As a brief background, this important piece of advice from Dad Land came on the heels of a meeting conducted in Mother Chapter several months after the Order was founded in 1919 when membership began to grow from the initial nine boys to thirty one. Membership continued to grow and the boys feared that they were growing into "too large a Club", thus someone proposed that membership should be limited to only seventy five (75). During the official meeting, the motion was quickly received, moved, seconded, and adopted. It was only then that Dad Land stood up to speak and admonished the boys that they were being selfish and that if DeMolay was good for one boy, it must be good for all the eligible boys. It was then that he reminded all that "to become big, they must be big." The motion was automatically rescinded and DeMolay was permitted to grow and develop. Today, a century hence, the Order of DeMolay is present in at least 25 countries and territories worldwide, and counting.

Based on the current membership statistics from DeMolay International, there are (as of today) currently 15,362 active members in 552 active chapters under the jurisdiction of DeMolay International. This does not count the members and chapters in the four other independent jurisdictions of DeMolay: Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the Philippines. However, also based on the statistics coming from DeMolay International, there are also a total of 138 chapters that are recently inactive and a whopping 4,003 chapters who have forfeited their charters due to loss of membership! Yes, you saw that right: four thousand and three lost chapters! Furthermore, for 2019, there is an estimated negative growth due to the new members coming in are fewer than those that the Order will lose due to reaching the age of majority. A net loss in membership growth, at our centennial year at that!

This brings me now to briefly discuss the duty of every member of the Order. We are taught that our first duty is to get involved; to jump in with both feet and to share the DeMolay experience with other deserving young men. The importance of recruitment cannot be ignored since the Order of DeMolay's active membership is limited to young men who fall within the age range of 12-21 years old. Thus, we must keep recruiting new members to replace those who move on and who have exchanged the crown of youth with the crown of manhood. That is why it has always been a goal that every DeMolay should recruit at least two new members - one for replacement, and one for growth - within the first year of your membership. (emphasis mine)

We must not rest on our laurels but continue to heed Dad Land's important words: to introduce DeMolay to other worthy boys, and continue to become big. Despite all the challenges we currently face with our society, the Order will continue to thrive as long as we believe that we have something worthwhile to contribute to today's young men. And believe me, we do. Let us not only be proud to be members of this wonderful Order but we should strive to pass membership to our friends. Let’s go out and continue to recruit worthy young men!

I end this short essay paraphrasing the wise words from the Ceremony of Light: that each of us as a DeMolay, holds within our hearts a flame, a beacon to guide us through the darkness. We should not only make this light shine upon another, but we must endeavor to reach into the innermost depths of his soul and set his flame afire, for therein lies the purpose of the Order of DeMolay. and therein lies our purpose for living.

Best fraternal regards, "Dad" Ricarte Abejuela III

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Frank S. Land Day is Tomorrow!

Frank S. Land Day is Tomorrow!
Sixty years ago, "Dad" Frank Sherman Land died. DeMolay Chapters around the world are planning observances and events in honor of this amazing man. At the age of 28 his bold vision gave rise to the youth serving organization we all know and love.

As a reminder this is an obligatory day for our chapters to obeserve and we would love to hear what you are doing to honor the memory of "Dad" Land!

Across the world, Chevaliers will break bread together and rededicate themselves to three fold purpose of DeMolay, Love of God, Love of Home and Love of Country.

I am excited to see that there are at least three planned observances in our Great State:
Yahnundasis Court on 11/8/2019
Metro Region Court of Chevaliers on 11/8/2019
Hudson Valley Court of Chevaliers on 11/10/2019
Others will be doing observances individually to honor their obligations.

If you do not have a court near you and are interested in forming one let us know.  At a minimum we are asking that you have 10 Chevaliers who are willing to commit to being part of the court and supporting its mission!

We would love to see pictures and photos, feel free to send them into me at and we'll get them posted.

In addition, we are asking each court to file a report with New York DeMolay on their actions and activities.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

7th Cardinal Virtue Alert or Go Vote Young Man!

When the 7th Preceptor explains the virtue of patriotism, he speaks about the value of good citizenship and how every day we can be good patriots.Brothers, November 5th 2019 is a great day to be a good citizen! 

Today across the Great State of New York polls are open from 6AM to 9PM to allow voters to cast their ballots.  Many of these elections are for offices at the municipal and county level which have a huge impact on your daily lives while others are for the judiciary which has long lasting impacts on our lives.

If you are not registered to vote and you otherwise meet the qualifications to vote, please take the time today to register to vote. You can find the directions here: If you are too young to legally vote, take some time today to ask an older person why they voted and why voting is important to them.  Please do not ask them who they voted for or support, that is impolite. As a reminder: there is no place in DeMolay for partisan politics. 

For all of us, take time today to read the 7th Cardinal Virtue and think about how it speaks to you and how you can live it. If you're an active DeMolay and you don't have a printed version of the ritual, let us know. We'll get you one.

I want to share three other ideas with you briefly:

1. DeMolay prepares you for good citizenship by allowing you to vote:  Political Scientists have shown that the more often you do something the more small d democratic you become. For many young people the only time they vote is in the yearly school elections. In DeMolay we vote on something every month, be it spending money, ordering pizzas, or doing a social event. Each time you vote in your chapter you are building up what is termed as "social capital." So yes, today you are voting between ordering pepperoni on your pizza or pineapple, but in a few short years you will be voting on who occupies the governor's mansion in our majestic Capital of Albany.

2. September 1971 was history setting for DeMolay!

In September 1971, Active DeMolays were able to vote in public elections for the first time in history. For over half of DeMolay's history DeMolays were too young to vote. On July 1, 1971 when North Carolina ratified the 26th Amendment 18 year olds could now vote: "The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age."  As a point of pride,  the Speaker of the House at the time was Senior DeMolay Carl Albert from Oklahoma.  Though the next time you see brothers from Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, or Utah ask them why their state never ratified the amendment. 

3. The DeMolay Ritual has Changed! You have probably heard "The DeMolay Ritual is the same as it has been since 1919." That's not accurate there have been a number of changes through the years. One of them relates to how we talk about patriotism. We used to say of the blessings that we *will* enjoy, it was modified to its current version to speak of the blessing which we *now* enjoy. Think about all of the great blessings we enjoy living in the United States and our Great State of New York. Excelsior!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

New MATOC non-voting appointments

DeMolay International groups jurisdictions into Regions for administrative ease.

Our Great State of New York, is grouped with the Great State of New Jersey, the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Great State of Delaware, The Great State of Maryland including the federal colony, and the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. Collectively the form Region II. When I was a youth we used to say "Region II: Second to None." As an adult, we know that's still true.

Our Region hosts an annual ritual tournament called the Mid-Atlantic Tournament of Champions and is supervised by a board of directors consisting of Active DeMolays and advisors.  In our jurisdiction Brother Gavin J. of Ridge Council serves as our youth voting rep and "Dad" Craig Riha serves as our adult voting representative. I want to thank them for all of the hard work they have been doing.

MATOC also allows non-voting members to advise, guide, but not to vote.  Using that option, I have designated State Master Councilor Altman, Deputy State Master Councilor Jordan as non-voting youth reps, and "Dad" Perry, "Dad" Schoonmaker and "Dad" Hurkala as non-voting members.

I hope and trust they will ensure the MATOC Tournament Director is doing his job correctly, but also learning about how MATOC works and making sure it is the best ritual tournament it can be.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

“How did failure contribute to my success?".... and help me win $1,500

Did the headline capture your attention? 

Have some thoughts on it?

Can you write 250-350 words on it?

Each year, the Grand Lodge of New York sponsors an essay contest for graduating high school seniors and this year's theme is "How did failure contribute to my success?"
You can read the full information here:

I did ask RW Br. Cary Cohn and our Masonic Youth are part of the extended family and the sponsoring body of your Chapter can act as the sponsor of the essay.

The prizes range from $1,500 for first place down to $100 for 10th place. This means each word you write is worth between $4.28 to 3.5 cents depending on how you place.

I would love to see a DeMolay or Sweetheart win this year's contest!

Thank you to RW Br. Cohn and his committee, the Fifth Manhattan District Endowment Fund, Inc. for sponsoring it, and of course our amazing Grand Lodge!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Working Groups

Working Groups

As we look at what we do in New York DeMolay, we want to take stock of where we are going and where we are heading.  To help in this process, I am pleased to announce the creation of several different working groups spearheaded by advisors that will be addressing a number of different issues. 
Ritual Working Group: I have asked “Dad” Riha, Director of Ritual, and our assistant directors of ritual “Dad” Perry, “Dad” Schoonmaker, and “Dad” Hurkala to work with three appointees of our State Master Councilor to look at the state of our ritual program, examine ways we can make it better and develop a standardized obligation card policy for our state. 

Alumni Working Group: I have asked “Dad” Bob Siebold, Director of Alumni Affairs to form a group to look at the state of our alumni program and ways we can better engage and involve our alumni.

Parental and Family Engagement Working Group: I have asked “Mom” Celentano to spearhead and form a parental and family engagement working group. This will help us see how we can better engage with our parents and families of our DeMolays.

Medical and Safety Working Group: I have asked  “Dad” Truebger, “Dad” Stephen Romano,  “Dad” Michael Leonard, and “Dad” Nicholas Portera to think through medical releases and safety issues and come back to us with best practices. 

Bullying Prevention Working Group:  I have asked “Dad” Justin Cook to form up a group to look at issues related to bullying and how we can make sure we are leading in the prevention of bullying.

Sweetheart Working Group:  I have asked “Mom” Stephanie Cook to form a working group looking at how DeMolay can best serve the young ladies who are involved with our program.

I look forward to what these working groups will produce and sharing the fruits of their labors with you.  In the future as we look at other parts of our programs we will be adding other working groups! 

Pizza, Ritual Performance Class, Ice Cream, Basketball, Video Games: LeadCon Day 1 is in the books!

Day 1 of LeadCon 2019 is in the books! What a night it was!  We welcomed DeMolays from across the Great State of New York to the Masonic C...