May I extend a warm welcome to you all this evening. It’s good to see you here as we get back to some normality.
Brother Knights when I addressed Provincial Priory last October I said how heartened I was with the manner in which the Province had responded to the enforced suspension of our regular activities. Can I say how equally heartened I am in the way the Province is getting back to regular meetings.
This evening I have conferred the equivalent rank in the Order of Malta on those Knights I appointed and promoted in Provincial Priory last October, and I thank them for their continued support.
Our ‘Strategy for Growth’ – Awareness – Recapture – Growth – Dialogue has generated a great deal of interest, both here and in other Provinces. Our mission still is, and will continue to be, to take this strategy forward in a measured way, so we become a pre-eminent Order within the Province, and I encourage everyone to promote the Order at every opportunity.
Brother Knights I am delighted to report that since we launched the strategy last September we have 47 potential candidates for Knighthood – 6 have already been installed and a further 10 have been approved by me but not yet Installed. Also 5 members have joined from outside the Province. 18 of the potential candidates have not yet been Exalted in the Holy Royal Arch and we are working with the Order to guide them to a suitable Chapters, 3 have already been placed. Having said that I am concerned that a small number of Preceptories are experiencing difficulties in maintaining an interest from their members. We are working with them to offer support, however Brother Knights, if after due time the efforts of the active members and the Province don’t prove fruitful then I will seriously have to consider the future. I earnestly hope that situation will not arise and those members who are dormant at the moment resume their labours.
Whilst on the subject of membership can I clarify a matter which is causing some confusion and that is the qualification for membership. The Statutes are clear that an intimate connection has long existed between the Order of the Temple and Freemasonry and a candidate to be installed a Knight of the Order should be a Master Mason and a Royal Arch Mason and a Christian. There is no requirement in that definition that they should be subscribing members of the Craft or Royal Arch, that said I would sincerely hope that we all maintain an active membership in those important Orders.
Our monthly newsletter ‘Non Nobis Domine’ continues and I am delighted at the interest that it generates both inside and outside the Order. If you have any items of interest please let the editor Paul Eustace have them. The ‘Ritual Rovers’ are proving beneficial to Preceptories, supporting three Preceptories since the New Year, but Brother Knights they are only their to help Preceptories deliver a meaningful ceremony to a new candidate, please don’t abuse them.
There are a number of significant dates for your diary in the coming months.
Firstly the Provincial Church Service of Thanksgiving on Low Sunday, 24 April commencing at 2.00 pm. This year it will be held at St Wilfrid’s Church, Harrogate, followed by refreshments at Harrogate Masonic Hall. I look forward in eager anticipation that the Knights and their wives, partners and family will support this occasion where we will have the opportunity to profess our Christian faith.
On Wednesday, 18 May Great Priory meet in London and I hope Knights will support those members of the Province who may be receiving appointments or promotion in Great Priory.
The Emmaus Society meet on 23 June at Morley and further information about the meeting will be circulated in due course.
To conclude the first half of the year we will be holding the ever popular Annual Dinner at Drighlington on 8 July.
Given that this is a Malta meeting it is most appropriate that I mention the Provincial expedition to ‘Melita,’ which takes place from 4th to 11th May this year. There are some 25 Knights and their ladies going,
I have already thanked the Prior of Malta for his work this evening, but I also thank the Officers of the Pentagonal and Octagonal Tables for their work and also those other Knights who contributed to a successful ceremony, including the members of my Bodyguard. I particularly thank the Provincial Mareschal for his management of the meeting and the Provincial Vice Chancellor and his team for the administrative arrangements. Whilst on the subject of the Vice Chancellor can I commend a suggestion from him which is that every Knight in the Province considers visiting at least two other Preceptories during the course of a year. That will not only enhance your Knights Templar experience, but will give some support and encouragement to other Preceptories – after all most Preceptories only meet four times a year so two other meetings isn’t an onerous commitment.
Brother Knights I am often moved by the Malta ceremony and its reflection on the life of our Blessed Lord and Saviour, particularly so in this Lenten season when we have time to focus on his suffering and his sacrifice, and his life, death and resurrection. May the words used in the closing of the Priory, that ‘he has gone before to open the Door of Everlasting Life’ be at the forefront of our thoughts, our life and our work as we take comfort that in due time the Gates of Paradise will be opened to receive us as one of his faithful servants.
Brother Knights I wish you all well in your endeavours, with renewed vigour to uphold the excellent ideals of this Order, and strength to continue to profess our Christian faith.