MW Past Grand Masters, Most Eminent Companion Greg, Ladies, Guests, Brethren and Companions all,
What a wonderful couple of days we have had so far and congratulations to the whole team of grand officers who put the best of Victoria on display this afternoon.
First things first, I would just like to pay a tribute to Fiona and my children. They have been tireless in their support and their love for me, and I just want you to know I owe you an enormous amount, and I love you very much.
Fiona is definitely my better half and your love, patience and caring influence, means the world to me. Thank you, darling.
Talking of Family influences…
There is a saying, ’’that Mother knows best’’ and I am very happy to have my Mum here today, all the way from Scotland.
Earlier this week I was going over this address in my head and was pacing up and down the hallway.
Mum in her usual practical and loving way, turned to me and gave me this advice
Look, just remember, do not try to be too charming or witty
And for goodness sake, don’t try to come over as being too intelligent either.
Just be yourself!!
One person not here, at least physically, but I feel sure is standing beside me at this very moment, is my father.
Dad never aspired to be a lodge office bearer, neither do I remember him ever delivering any piece of ritual in lodge. Although a born salesman, he never once tried to sell freemasonry to me.
Rather it was his approach to life and his measured behaviour that impressed on me, the value of Freemasonry and encouraged me then and now, to consider the craft as offering a unique code in how to improve one’s self and help society.
I am truly honoured to see everyone here today.
It is very humbling to welcome you to this very special day for the members of The United Grand Lodge of Victoria and also for my family and I.
However, whilst our families, ladies and friends are very important in all our gatherings, I hope you don’t mind me directing a few comments directly to my brethren.
So Brethren and companions, this is what I want you to consider.
I truly believe that we are all part of a new exciting cycle for Freemasonry.
Today is a celebration of unity in Freemasonry. I say that, because if I were to ask you, why you are REALLY here and why have you travelled so many miles to be here?
I wonder what your response might be.
Let me put this to you.
We all see the atrocities happening in our world with some groups promoting division and mistrust between countries and their peoples. Division by class, religion, political affiliation and culture.
I believe that in our organisation, these divisions do not exist. We are united by the aims and traditions of Freemasonry, and I believe all the brethren feel the same.
In a way, I feel that we are at home together.
Home is a place where we are always at our most relaxed; where we can be free to express ourselves without being judged; where our views and opinions are no more or less important than those of anyone else.
A place where we can genuinely laugh out loud and feel safe. Where we feel sheltered and loved in a united bond.
This bond that we share as brothers in our wonderful craft has been perfected over the centuries and in this Grand Lodge, for nearly 130 years. Our fathers, grandfathers and generations before understood the value in us coming together as brethren and sharing in the aims of Freemasonry.
Just think what the commentators on society would say about what we are demonstrating here today.
A gathering of over 1200 brethren and partners from 22 different jurisdictions, from across the globe and representing all of the world’s major religions.
Men who have lived through a world war or just starting their careers.
Coming together, not for some business junket, material gain or because we were promised anything, but because we gain community from the fellowship of our fraternity.
Our predecessors understood the value of Unity when they set out to create what we have right now. More importantly, they saw the value in every one of us and laid the foundation upon which we build our moral and Masonic edifices, together.
For many, lodge represents a sanctuary, a meeting together of friends who have a connection that transcends anything else like it. Lodges have become our safety nets, our lifelines, our places of refuge. Historically, the natural home of revolutionary thought and ideas about man’s responsibility to build a better world.
Some of you may not realise this, but The United Grand Lodge of Victoria was based upon radical thoughts of the day……Developing unity in adversity.
The ravages of time may have dulled some aspects of the radicalism, but deep within us is a conviction of our purpose.
To make the world a better place, one man at a time.
We all aim to be an example of what and who we can become when we work together.
But as in a home, we have our squabbles and perhaps given in to selfish traits from time to time. And maybe, just maybe we have become a little too complacent about what the real meaning freemasonry should have in our lives.
And like many things in life, sometimes we don’t realise how important something is until it is nearly gone.
Maybe to the outside world, we seem to possibly have less drive and commitment to our professed aims than in previous ages.
However, I believe we are now at the beginning of a reawakening for Freemasonry.
I charge each and every one of you to be beware of complacency and conservatism. For they are the enemies of change and Unity.
We have created dialogue, we have created an exchange of information and have broken bread together.
But always remember to continually ask yourselves:
What more can I do to fire the flames of my enthusiasm for the craft?
What can I do to give more meaning to why we are Freemasons?
‘’to make the world a better place, one man at a time.’’
I don’t believe masonry is about turning up to lodge once a month—it’s about who you are between these visits.
I welcome the day that we as brethren, can be members of any Lodge of our choosing; where we can bring new men into any Lodge at any time, among any of our Brethren and feel the way I feel at this very moment
Where unity is not confused with uniformity.
Where we challenge ourselves to do things differently from what we’ve always done.
In fact, just recently I had the pleasure in taking part in the consecration of a new lodge, not far from here.
Where the brethren wanted to express their commitment to the principles of Freemasonry, but in a new and different way.
I urge you all to support our Unity; to allow it to be part of your daily lives and to make it a part of your Masonic and Spiritual journey. Decide for yourself to do more for the common good, rather than your individual preference.
Share with others what it means to you to be a mason.
I encourage you to embrace the connections to brethren across the world – to be part of the new resurgent movement of masonry and which is needed strongly now, more than ever before.
If we do so, our lives and actions will be the strongest demonstration to anyone, of what it means to be a freemason.
Brethren, from today, let us continue to stand united across Victoria, across Australia and across the World and in doing so,
I urge every one of us to pause for a moment right now and ask yourself;
How can I make a positive difference to those around me and be the example of what previous generations of Brethren would have aspired us to be?
And make the world a better place, one man at a time