150 years of Freemasons in Wagga

By Nicole Barlow
Updated November 7 2012 - 2:39pm, first published April 11 2011 - 12:13am

THE Freemasons is as well known as the iconic Wagga men who served in the organisation for countless years.Look around Wagga and names such as Best, Gissing, Jenkins, Dobney, Willan, Blamey and Chisholm are cemented not only on street signs and memorials but in the history of the city.All are former Freemasons and a series of celebrations were held at the weekend to commemorate the milestone of 150 years of Freemasons in Wagga.Members of Lodge Wagga No. 22 and Freemasons from NSW and ACT descended on the Botanic Gardens for a tour of the gardens before a Mayoral Reception at the Civic Theatre.Grand Master Doctor Gregory Levenston addressed more than 50 attendees and spoke of the rich history that Freemasons have in Wagga.He said the involvement of the lodge with Wagga is like 'an old native river red gum', intertwined in the community.Rick Priest is a past junior grand warden and has been a member of the Freemasons for 50 years."It's a social group that has no dogma but there is a set standard of morals and ethics within the organisation that you have to maintain," he said.After the Mayoral Reception, members and guests were invited to watch the Grand Master re-consecrate the Masonic Centre in Tarcutta Street.A meeting of Lodge Wagga Wagga No. 22 was held from 4pm on Saturday and the day concluded with a dinner at the RSL Club.There is a mutual respect among members, one that is even believed to have stopped a war. In the trenches of World War II, Australian troops emerged from the trenches on Christmas night and identified themselves as Freemasons. Germans on the opposing side, who had been their enemies just moment before, also emerged and identified themselves as Freemasons and the fighting apparently stopped.This type of comradery was also apparent at the weekend during a series of celebrations across the city.

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