Evenings of Discussion / Education

Evenings of Discussion / Education

Evenings of Discussion / Education
an email from W.Bro Eamonn McCarthy

The Evenings of Discussion / Education continue to be held in Tuckey Street on the second Friday of each month at 7:30pm [12 months of the year]. The numbers attending continue to grow with brethren from Limerick still attending every month. An attendee is placed on a circulation list for receipt of a copy of the papers presented at each subsequent meeting – this currently stands at approximately 60 members.

Well over a hundred papers on a wide range of subjects have been presented by various brethren many of which include Power Point presentations. These include presentations on historical, ritual, spiritual, philosophical, administrative, strategic and charitable, and many other matters.

The attendance comes from the various lodges and includes a good cross section of newer and older members. The insight of the newer members can be most revealing. Members of all levels attend.

The meetings are informal and are held in the Supper Room to enhance the informality. The meetings are very inter-active with not only Q&A’s on the papers presented but also general discussions on any matter masonic raised on the night.

These Evenings of Discussion / Education appear to be ‘ahead of the curve’ vis-à-vis the new Grand Lodge initiative on education.

The Grand Lodge recently set up an Education Committee with immediate effect to address what was seen as an urgent need for education.

As the Grand Master stated:

“I have always been unhappy with new entrants being given, for example, a first degree and most of it going over their heads.
Then being given their second and third without any explanations of what they have actually gone through and assented to. I firmly believe that if we give them explanations and help their understanding of Freemasonry we will have a greater chance of retaining them as members.”

Whilst I concur with the Grand Master’s statement I also believe that even long serving members can benefit from further masonic education.
I see it as being somewhat akin to the Continuing Professional Development requirement that most professions now require.

A senior member recently stated that the Order has a three-fold task which can be summarized by three “R’s” i.e. Recruitment, Retention and Retrieval.
As he stated –

“we are fairly good at the first but have difficulty with the other two”:

I concur.
Indeed this appears to be an issue with Freemasonry worldwide.
I correspond with a long-serving Brother in Victoria B.C Canada who is much involved with the whole education initiative in the Province of British Columbia and the Yukon.

He is Irish and received his three degrees in Ireland so he has a good feel for Freemasonry in Ireland. He runs a very successful Masonic web site called
“The Educator” which has thousands of subscribers from all over the world.

Through this web site it is clear that much the same challenges arise throughout the Masonic world. It is also clear that some initiatives have been more successful than others; two initiatives clearly dominate.

The first is an active Educational programme.
Informality appears to be a necessary ingredient for success.
Whilst delivery of a paper at a lodge meeting is to be welcomed it seems that separate informal meetings are more successful

[which is what we have with our Evenings of Discussion / Education].

Members may be more inclined to present a paper in an informal setting than at a formal lodge meeting.

The Evenings of Discussion / Education give members an opportunity to research, prepare and present a paper before an assembly of what they know is an interested and like-minded group of brethren. It also seems that visible endorsement by the ‘top brass’ is a necessary ingredient and we are very lucky here in Munster that the PGM, PDGM and other ‘top brass’ actively promote and attend the meetings.

The second initiative that appears to be reaping good results in the Masonic world is what is known as ‘buy-in’.

This involves all the members of a lodge discussing what ‘ethos’ (image) they wish their lodge to have. This is somewhat akin to a ‘mission-statement’ or ‘statement of intent’.

This could be an emphasis on one or more of ritual or education or charity or comradery or visiting. It gives the members a say in what kind of a lodge they have and hence they ‘buy-in’ to this. The members become more committed and also the lodge activities are felt to be more relevant. An annual review is held so that it is an organic developmental process that is dictated by the membership at that point in time.

This is also very helpful to the WM in that he has a clear view of where he needs to steer the lodge.

If you are a member of the Order and have not yet been to an Evening of Discussion / Education then I strongly recommend that you attend at least one meeting. I can guarantee that you will learn something new.

W.B. Eamonn McCarthy

Comment
This paper speaks for itself and there is little that I could add to improve on its content or delivery.
With that in mind, I simply wish to use this opportunity to thank W.Bro. McCarthy for sharing with us and wish he and his Circle much success in the years ahead.

Have a wonderful Day & God Bless
Norm