Big Turnout For Union Star Lodge At The Biennial Educational Event

College of Freemasonry Reveals Truth On Illuminati, Templars, & Life-Saving Masonic Signs Of Distress

Some members of Union Star Lodge attending the College of Freemasonry Educational event (from left to right): Dan Boehmke, Peter Cormack, Andy Allan, Russell Cragg, Ken Hecker. 

Nearly 100 Masons, their family members, and other members of the public attended the Tenth College of Freemasonry Educational Event held at the Damascus Shrine Center on Saturday, March 4, 2023. Program organizer Bill Edwards, who is also Treasurer of the Webster Lodge #538, F&AM, opened the event emphasizing the day promised to leave attendees with a “I did not know that!” feeling. It was a promise kept.

One of the fundamental expectations within the Masonic fraternity is the sense that one Mason will always help another Brother who is in distress. Michael Karpovage, a Fairport native and graduate of RIT, works as an illustrator and cartographer in Georgia. He returned to his Greater Western New York origins to present 18 examples of “enemy Freemasons protecting or saving each other on the battlefield.” His examples ranged from the Revolutionary War through World War II.

Karpovage concludes, “If you’re a Mason, wear your Masonic ring, get a tattoo, and know your hail sign because one day your life might depend on it.”

William Mann, author of several historical books on the Knights Templar, traced potential interactions between Templars and Algonquin tribes in Canada. Mann, who has appeared in a number of documentaries and on the hit History Channel series America Unearthed, also threw cold water on the idea there is a Templar treasure buried beneath Oak Island in Nova Scotia. Mann says we see so much interest in the Knights Templar today because of “this whole notion that they possess a treasure of religious or physical value, a treasure that still hasn’t been found. It’s one of the world’s greatest supposed treasures. There’s a romance about it. You’ve got a perfect story about knights, damsels in distress…”

Josef Wages is a board member of the Scottish Rite Research Society. He published one of the first books detailing extensive research on the historical (as opposed to fictional) Illuminati, an organization that formed in Germany in 1776 with the purpose of fighting censorship. They disbanded it in 1785. Why is the Illuminati still talked about today (and not in an especially nice way)? “There was a nice convenient vacuum and, until my book was published, there wasn’t a whole lot of concrete information about them. They could inject anything they wanted to about them. They could be the founders of communism, they could be trying to overthrow the world, or they could be a nice convenient excuse for the problems in the world. In the absence of information, they could say anything, but we’ve now put a baseline in.” In fact, based on his research, about the only thing The Illuminati did that was untoward was “trying to take Masons for their money and their members.”

John Bernard, a member of the Webster Lodge, was excited with what he learned at the event. “The history of Freemasonry that ties through the growth of America and even pre-America is astonishing,” he says. “The roots of the nation and the history that we have as a country is tied together with the history of Masonry, but it’s different from our country in general, it’s bigger, and it’s something I’m glad to be part of.”

Commenting on the Karpovage lecture, Andy Allan, Secretary of Union Star Lodge #320 in Honeoye Falls, couldn’t help but be impressed by the deeper meaning of the brotherhood. “In the worldwide fraternity of Masons,” he says, “we have each other’s backs.”

Peter Cormack, also of Union Star Lodge, was enthralled by Mann’s presentation and the depth of his research. “We have some very fine Masonic scholars,” he says. “I learned a few things about the Templars I didn’t know.”

It was Wages who received the bulk of the questions during the panel discussion following each speaker’s talk. When asked which entity was more mysterious, the Illuminati or the Templars, he said with confidence, “The Templars, because research has taken most of the mystery out of the historical Illuminati.”

The College of Freemasonry is hosted biennially by the Valley of Rochester Scottish Rite. The Scottish Rite, often referred to as 32° Freemasonry, is an appendant body of Freemasonry a Master Mason may join to journey deeper into the teachings of the Craft. The Valley of Rochester covers an area in the eastern half of the Greater Western New York region of New York State from the shores of Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania border. It regularly hosts fun and educational events both for Masons and non-Masons.

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