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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes December 2008

A Special Holiday Greeting

            “I wish for you our brothers of all faiths, that just a little light will drive away much darkness and you and I and all of us together can make a difference. We are Masons. We are the children of the Great Creator. We have a definite pattern to follow and that is the life and love of Freemasonry. At this time of the year, some of us observe Chanukah, others observe Christmas, and still others Kwanza. Whatever your faith, whatever your tradition, we wish you a happy holiday as brothers and as children of one Creator.”

(Source: MSA Short Talk Bulletin 12-08 The Festival of Chankukah
By: Melville H. Nahin, PGM (CA)

Masonic Order of Illinois Accomodates the Military

   In a move considered “most unusual,” the Grand Lodge of Illinois has gone out of its way to help seven members of the 333rd Military Police Company become Master Masons before their training and deployment to Afghanistan.

   According to Dan Yandel, Grand Master of more than 70.000 Masons in the State of Illinois, “We felt it necessary to do everything possible to help these men become members of our Masonic Order. The trick was speeding up the normal four-month process to accommodate their military time frame of less than one month before they shipped out. That required the Grand Lodge to examine the rules and regulations carefully to see how we could speed up the process.”

   In summarizing the efforts of the many Illinois Masons who “jumped through hoops” to help these men, Grand Master Dan Yandel stated, “The Grand Lodge of Illinois was honored to accommodate these special men who are willing to risk their lives for the sake of our country and its freedom. They are the kind of men we are happy and eager to welcome as brothers into our fraternity.”

(Source: Grand Lodge of Illinois – News Release)

Warmest holiday greetings!

RJ Mitte Acts from Experience

   Fifteen-year old RJ Mitte has worked hard to overcome the effects of cerebral palsy.

   He’s done so well that, at first glance, his disability isn’t noticeable. But, in his role on the AMC television series Breaking Bad, his symptoms are much more pronounced – a tribute to RJ’s acting skills.

   A chance encounter with a Shriner who noticed RJ walking on his toes – and falling – when he was 3 years old led RJ and his family to Shriners Hospitals for Children – Shreveport. There, physicians recommended a casting procedure instead of the surgery suggested by RJ’s physician.

   Since that time, RJ and his family have made routine visits to the Shreveport Shriners Hospital, where RJ continues to undergo therapy to increase dexterity and range of motion in his hands and legs. Working extensively with Assistant Chief of Staff Philip Gates, M.D., and the hospital’s physical, occupational and speech therapists, RJ has improved tremendously, negating any need for surgery.

   At age 13, another chance encounter changed RJ’s young life.

   A talent agent happened to spot RJ’s younger sister, Lacianne, and expressed interest in representing her. When other agents began to notice the striking 4-year old, the family selected a manager for her.

   “We went in with Lacianne, and the manager asked why she didn’t have RJ, as well,” Dyna (RJ’s Mother) recalled. “I explained his situation and she said she wanted him – that he had the perfect look and was a great kid.”

   Almost immediately, RJ was cast in television roles and background appearances in two films. Eventually, he landed the role of the smart-alecky son of terminally ill school professor Walter White in AMC’s edgy new series Breaking Bad. Making RJ uniquely suited to the part is the fact that the character has cerebral palsy, although with more pronounced symptoms than RJ’s.

   “It’s hard and easy at the same time,” RJ said. “I never used crutches, so I had to learn how to use them, and I had to learn to slur my speech more.”

   The role proved a perfect fit. This past spring, RJ was in contention for an Emmy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama. In addition to receiving critical acclaim, RJ now finds himself inspiring countless fans who face similar obstacles.

   “I get fan letters all the time that say ‘my son or daughter has CP and they are inspired by you and thank you for what you’re doing’,” RJ said. “It’s really nice knowing that.”

   Despite his rigorous schedule, RJ still makes regular visits to the Shreveport Shriners Hospital, and plans to use his newfound connections to help raise funds and awareness for the health care system.

   “If I hadn’t gone to Shriners Hospital, I wouldn’t be able to walk or talk as good as I do,” he said. “I really want to give back.”

(Source: Shrine News Release)


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