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Nearly 200 attend Bandera Masonic Lodge

By Steven James BCC Editor

Bandera’s Masonic Lodge held its first-ever open house this past Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. to educate the public about Masonry, including practices, how to join, the symbolism and the various Masonic organizations.
Nearly every Texas Masonic Lodge held an open house on Sunday at the same time. At the Bandera Lodge, the event attracted different groups of people, including Lodge members, prospective members, Bandera’s Order of the Eastern Star, the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, DeMolay International and general Bandera County residents. In addition to teaching the public about Masonry, the event was also held so the Masons could talk about the Lodge’s charitable activities and events and to answer questions without giving away Lodge secrets.
People enjoyed refreshments and walking around the Lodge’s Masonic Temple, the room where meetings are held. A video that described Masonry played on repeat, and signs posted around the temple explained where specific Lodge positions sat, as well as those positions’ duties.
Bandera Lodge Master Dan Mendez said men who are interested in joining the Lodge are encouraged to attend open dinners, which are held every fourth Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Meetings follow the dinners at 7:30. Only Lodge members can attend the meetings, but the dinners are open to the public.
“I think we’ve accomplished more in the past few years than they have in quite a few years, as trying to get back into the community, and more awareness,” Mendez said. “We don’t have secrets, just a lot of symbolism.”
Bandera Lodge Junior Warden Michael Haynes, who gave tours and answered questions, said he has been a member since 2008. When answering people’s questions, he emphasized the long history, brotherhood, importance of tradition and character requirements of Masonry.
“For people who want to join, you need to understand that it’s all voluntary,” Haynes said. “I think what happens is we get so busy that we kind of forget about the things that help make a community closer. Masonry brings together a lot of men from different backgrounds, different economic standpoints and brings us all together to do something good for each other and for the community.”
Some of the charitable organizations the Bandera Masonic Lodge works with include FAN-tastic Teeth, the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and Shriners Hospitals for Children. The Lodge also works with Bandera Independent School District to host an essay contest for Alkek Elementary School and Hill Country Elementary School fifth graders, and to award $1,000 to a Bandera High School senior.
Helping Lodge members answer questions were the Eastern Star, Rainbow Girls and DeMolay organizations.
Eastern Star is a Freemasonic group for women who are related to Masons, mainly the wives, daughters, mothers and widows of Masons, but other relatives as well, according to Eastern Star’s website. Men who are Masons can also join.
Rainbow Girls is for young women ages 11 to 21, and DeMolay is for young men ages 12 to 21, according to the Rainbow Girls and DeMolay websites. The point of those two organizations is to take good youth and make them great adults, much like how a Masonic Lodge takes good men and makes them better men, also according to those two organizations’ websites.
“My favorite thing about Rainbow Girls would have to be all of the experiences and memories I have with it,” said Hanna Brack, who has been a Rainbow Girls member for four years. “I’ve met a lot of friends through it, I’ve had a lot of great experiences, I’ve done a lot through it.”
Mendez said some of the plans he had to get the Lodge further into community involvement include participating in the Bandera Veterans Day parade, either the Kerrville or Center Point Christmas parade and hosting a public movie night.