The origins of Freemasonry may be shrouded in history, but it’s known to have been in existence since the Middle Ages. Lodge Hastings No. 69 – registered under the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory – has itself been around for 140 years, and celebrated this important anniversary in October.
District Grand Inspector of Workings (DGIW) of District 13, Matt Harding shares a little about what it means to be a Freemason in this modern age …
When and how did you personally become involved with Freemasonry – and what drew you to this organisation?
I became personally involved in Freemasonry after seeing Masons doing charity work for the betterment of the local community and made enquiries about how I could become a part of the organisation.
What can you tell us about the origins of Freemasonry?
The actual origins of Freemasonry have been lost in time, but it is known that it arose from the guilds of stonemasons which constructed Europe’s castles and cathedrals during the Middle Ages.
These craftsmen were in possession of highly prized skills in mathematics and architecture, which they in turn passed on to apprentices who had been accepted as being worthy of being taught the secrets of their trade. These trainees advanced, depending on their proficiency, to become Master Masons.
In England in 1717, four Lodges decided to create a formal organisation by forming the first Grand Lodge. Freemasonry then spread across Europe and to other countries with amazing speed.
In Australia, Freemasonry can be traced to the First Fleet’s arrival in 1788.
The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales was officially formed in 1888, and later became responsible for Freemasonry in the Australian Capital Territory.
What would you say are the core values of Freemasons?
Freemasonry is a large fraternal organisation that promotes moral and personal development amongst its members.
Its core values include caring for others, helping those in need and acting with honesty and integrity.
Tell us a little about the structure underlining the Freemasons … what are “Lodges”, and how do they work?
The Masonic Lodge is the basic organisational unit of Freemasonry. The Lodge meets regularly to conduct the usual formal business of any small organisation (pay bills, organise social and charitable events, elect new members, etc.)
In addition to business, the meeting may perform a ceremony to confer a Masonic degree or receive a lecture, which is usually on some aspect of Masonic history or ritual.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Lodge might adjourn for a formal dinner, or festive board.
Lodge Hastings No. 69 recently celebrated its 140th anniversary. This is an awesome achievement! How was the occasion celebrated?
Lodges from the district joined Lodge Hastings for the evening to mark the occasion and initiate a new candidate. At the close of the meeting, we adjourned for a celebratory meal with our wives and partners.
Why do you think your Lodge has achieved such longevity?
Lodge Hastings has been a part of the community for 140 years, and I think the history and quality of Masons over the years has contributed to the Lodge’s longevity and its current members wanting to be a part of and continue that legacy.
Your organisation’s mission is to “make good men better”. How do you go about achieving this?
Freemasonry practices strong moral principles and develops the core values of honesty and integrity in the individual and puts its principles into practice through its charitable activities.
We believe in interacting and working closely within our local communities to help all people in need and their communities as a whole.
Who is welcome to join your group – and how do they find out more info?
Men over the age of 18 who can provide and are happy to undergo a police check.
Information and enquires to join Freemasonry can be found on the Masonic website: www.masons.org.au
Interview: Jo Robinson.