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Winning ritual

Fellowship through ritual

Your October checklist

For your Trestleboard

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Winning ritual

Just a few months after wrapping up a grueling rehearsal schedule and an emotional victory in the 2015 team Ritual Competition, Francis Drake Lodge No. 376 in South San Francisco was approached by the grand lecturer to exemplify their winning ritual for a special Grand Lodge event. The 14 brothers on the ritual team turned to Officers Coach Alberto Jacinto.

“I said, ‘Okay, let’s start rehearsing again!’” Jacinto says. “The brothers didn’t get complacent. In fact, they rehearsed twice as hard the second time around.”

So it’s no surprise that when this year’s Ritual Competition came around, the lodge’s ritual team – this year: Joseph S. Liwanag, Melvin N. Mendoza, Gilbert L. Corpuz, and Mario D. Fernandez, with Jacinto once more at the helm as coach – dug deep again.

They won the 2018 Ritual Competition for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Perambulation and Marshal’s Interrogation. In addition to countless hours of individual practice, they rehearsed as a group every Wednesday night for the two months leading up to the competition, often until 11 o’clock at night.

Jacinto shares a look into team rehearsals.


  • We start by sharing a dinner prepared at the lodge. These can be long nights – starting at 6:30 p.m. and often going until 10 or 11 p.m. – so we make sure it’s a really good meal, often a traditional Filipino dish with rice and meat.
  • Usually we’ll have about 10 to 15 “sideliners” at any rehearsal. I encourage all the lodge brothers to watch the rehearsals because it gets the ritual team used to having an audience. These brothers are showing their support for the ritual team, learning, and who knows, perhaps someday they’ll volunteer to be on the team themselves.
  • We’ll often kick off rehearsal with vocal warm-ups, including help breathing correctly and projecting. I’ll share relaxation techniques, which can be as simple as taking three slow, deep breaths.
  • Each brother is asked to memorize his part’s words on his own. During rehearsals we coordinate the words to the floor work, and focus on everyone’s timing and execution – the when and how.
  • We joke a lot throughout rehearsals. The brothers need that in order to ease the pressure and concentrate. Humor relaxes everyone, and makes the rehearsals something to enjoy rather than endure.
  • I constantly reiterate that we’re a team – we all succeed or fail together. I encourage them to help and protect each other like they would on any other team, to boost each other’s confidence, and not to be discouraged by setbacks.
  • I encourage each individual to do his very best, whether his part is speaking or non-speaking, small or major. Each individual contributes to the overall performance. All the elements must come together in perfect harmony.


  • I’m known as being a strict coach. That’s okay with me. In school, I always preferred the strict teachers. They always taught me the most.
  • I demand attendance, punctuality, and a good attitude. When selecting a ritual team, I also look for each brother’s willingness to learn and be a team player, and most of all his commitment.
  • If someone is habitually late or absent from rehearsal, he can’t be on the team. How can someone be a part of the team if he didn’t rehearse with them? If the team is not in synch, then it will not be a good ritual.
  • I have to see that the team is devoting individual time to the work. They should come with their own part memorized so we can devote the group’s time to the floor work. They also need to understand the whats, the whys, and the hows within it.

Ritual is a big part of our lodge identity. Winning the Ritual Competition has made the brothers so proud and happy. For me, being their coach has been the most rewarding way to contribute to the lodge.

Contact: Alberto Jacinto

There’s more: Read Francis Drake Lodge’s tips for building fellowship through ritual rehearsal, below.

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Fellowship through ritual

The experience of learning something together can create a powerful bond between two people – or four, or 14.

That’s good news for lodges. It means that all the time brothers spend rehearsing ritual can not only lead to outstanding degrees – it can lead to outstanding fellowship.

Here are tips for coaches on how to maximize this opportunity to bring brothers closer through ritual.

  • Take time at group rehearsals to thank everyone for being there. Their presence shows their commitment to each other, as well as the ritual.
  • Address the brothers as a team: Each contributes to the overall performance.
  • Encourage them to lean on one another for coaching when they need extra help
  • Celebrating one another’s ritual achievements, whether in flawless memorization, perfect floor work, passionate delivery – or just getting through a tricky passage.
  • Charge the brothers with keeping one another motivated. If someone is struggling with a difficult passage, his brothers should remind him that he will do better next time, and the time after that.
  • In group ritual, emphasize the importance of earning one another’s trust – by putting in the time and work – and then channeling that trust to deliver great ritual.
  • Have the brothers work on being there for one another, literally. They should know one another’s parts well enough that if someone misses a cue, another brother should be able to pick it up.
  • Set a precedent that if someone makes a mistake, there should be no criticism or complaint, just brotherly love.
  • Ask brothers to reflect on the tradition they’re sharing of learning, rehearsing, and performing ritual, and remind them to enjoy it.
  • Use humor to keep the mood positive and make rehearsals fun. That sets the stage for camaraderie.
  • The most important element for fellowship (and great ritual) is time spent together, putting in the work. With enough repetitions over enough weeks, brothers will begin to feel in harmony. That feeling goes hand in hand with fellowship.

Special thanks to Francis Drake Lodge No. 376 in South San Francisco, two-time winner of the Grand Lodge Ritual Competition, for sharing the above tips. Read their Best Practice in this month’s issue for more of their winning advice.

Looking for more ritual tips? Read last year’s tip list,

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Your October checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your October checklist.

Executive Committee

  • Remind members to celebrate Make a Difference Month.
  • Attend the 169th Annual Communication, October 19-21. Your vote is important to the future of Freemasonry in California. Special events and some hotels are selling out, so reserve your place today.

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if not already completed.
  • Encourage the presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to qualify early with the inspector in their office’s ritual.
  • Urge respective officers to answer the master, senior warden, and junior warden questions early.
  • Identify and approach members for the 2019 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
  • Set calendar for 2019 and identify event leaders.
  • Continue preparing 2019 budget.
  • Finalize your installation date/venue and prepare the installing team.
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.

Junior Warden

  • Continue tracking 100% officer giving to the Annual Fund, with officers setting an example through gifts that represent their capability as well as their commitment to our charitable programs. Lodges that reach 100% officer giving by early October will be recognized at Annual Communication.


  • Prepare to send out dues notices and begin collecting member dues, starting October 31.


  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly federal payroll tax form 941 (unless IRS has approved an annual filing of form 944, due in February).
  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly state payroll tax form DE9/DE9C and deposit form DE88.

Questions? Contact Member Services at or (415) 776-7000.

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For your Trestleboard

Big events are on the horizon: The 2019 Masonic leadership retreats will share new tools and techniques for leaders; and the 2019 Masonic Symposium will honor 100 years of DeMolay. Tell your lodge to save the dates! Download this ad, plus an additional reminder.

This month:
Save the dates: 2019 Retreats and Symposium
Age Successfully at Acacia Creek

Share in your Trestleboard.

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Find it on

The Hiram Award is a lodge’s official recognition of a brother for his devoted service over the years – the highest honor that a lodge can bestow upon a member.

Use the Hiram Award Manual to plan an award presentation that’s as special as the brother it celebrates.

The manual contains information and advice for:

  • Forming a Hiram Award Committee
  • Obtaining a Grand Lodge certificate, medallion, and pin
  • Planning the award ceremony
  • Step-by-step order of ceremony

Download the Hiram Award Manual here. You can also find it on the secure Member Center under Resources & Publications > Manuals & Guides.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked when your lodge last adjusted its dues. Of those that responded:

  • 62% - Within the past five years
  • 24% - Six to 10 years ago
  • 4% - 11-25 years ago
  • 3% - More than 25 years ago
  • 7% - Don't know

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