The first part of an oration by W.Bro. the Rev’d Timothy J. N. L’Estrange, M.A., Deputy Grand Chaplain on the occasion of the Consecration of a new University Lodge.
Thirty years ago I left school, armed with the requisite A- levels, and preparing for university life ahead. I also had a great desire to become a Freemason. I approached my school’s own Lodge, where I was told that they would be delighted to initiate me, and that I should make contact again in five years’ time to begin talking about the possibility. I confess it was not the answer I had wanted. As I made my way through my university years, Freemasonry became a more distant aspiration, until one day I bumped into a fellow student in the bar – the topic of Freemasonry arose, I expressed my hopes, and he replied “Would you like to be initiated in the Apollo University Lodge a week on Saturday?” The rest, for me, is history!
Some Masons are critical of university lodges, accusing them of making too many Freemasons, too rapidly, at too young an age. With respect to those brethren, I believe they are completely wrong. Let me give you three reasons for saying so.
Firstly, we are too quick to forget our own history. The attitude that certain people are too young to appreciate Freemasonry is a new one. Historically our fraternity has always welcomed mature men of all ages, and many young initiates have contributed enormously to the Craft. Mozart was considered an older candidate when he was initiated at the age of 27. Rudyard Kipling was famously initiated at the age of 20 and appointed Secretary of his Lodge at the same meeting, putting him in the unique position of writing the minutes relating to his own initiation.
Secondly, our Universities are communities of learning and fellowship, and not only do we need to have Lodges associated with such communities in order to be a truly representative organisation, but also our fraternity benefits immeasurably from the presence within it of intelligent, literate, articulate men of proven worth as leaders and motivators in our society. University Lodges can be, and often are, centres of excellence in ritual, and powerhouses of research and discovery within our ancient Craft.
Thirdly, we should recognise that within society generally there is an acknowledgement of the “added value” brought by the presence of educated university graduates. If organisations from the police to the civil service are able to benefit from a graduate entry scheme then why should we deny ourselves the same opportunity within Freemasonry?
The Universities Scheme of the United Grand Lodge of England has brought many of the attitudes, opportunities, and benefits of University Freemasonry, long practiced in a very small number of ancient Universities, into the wider academic community, and to a broader range of academic institutions, and it has been an unqualified success. Really, the only wonder is that it didn’t happen sooner.
All Universities colleges of Higher Education in Shropshire now have access to this very special manifestation of our very wonderful fraternity and to join all you have to do is Contact Us