In my travels around the state as a Grand Lodge officer and now as Grand Master, I have had the privilege and pleasure of visiting many Illinois lodges, big and small, rich and poor, active and inert, and while they vary greatly in many features, in the lodges where Freemasonry is richest and most appealing, the men there exhibit two characteristics in ample form: Respect and Responsibility. The Brothers of these lodges act with respect in their dealings with everyone; they know that without meeting on the level they cannot part upon the square. From the Worshipful Master to the youngest Entered Apprentice, they treat one another as brothers. They also give the officers their due, in recognition that each one has stepped forward to give of his time in service to his lodge and our beloved Craft. Each one has taken Responsibility, and affirmed that he will do his very best to fulfill the requirements of his office. Those officers, in keeping with their solemn obligation, carry out their commitment to be the best men and Masons they can be, in service to their Craft, their lodge, and one another. They, and their lodges, thrive as a result. They serve as an example to all of us.
As your Grand Master, I take inspiration from these men, for they show what it takes to make Freemasonry work. They regularly attend stated and special meetings, work to learn the ritual, and have a vision for the future in which the vitality and growth of Illinois Freemasonry is a model for others. Our Grand Lodge is committed to that vision. To that end, we have asked each and every one of you to submit to your Lodge one petition this year. Find one qualified man who will gladly petition for his degrees because of what Freemasonry has been, is, and can be. Live the Craft, Brethren, and act with Respect and Responsibility. Remember, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”Richard Swaney