On Aug. 2, 1861, the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Colorado was born in Golden.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary, Gov. John Hickenlooper has proclaimed August “Masonic Month” in the state of Colorado.
“Colorado Masonic organizations have contributed millions of dollars for scholarships for deserving Colorado students,” Hickenlooper said in a released statement. “They have established and maintained services for children with speech and hearing difficulties, have supported the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to support medical research, contributed to the operations of the 22 Shrine Hospitals in the United States, and many other important charities providing service to Colorado residents.”
The Centurion Daylight Lodge No. 195 in Monument, located at 18275 Furrow Rd., is among the 131 Constituent lodges in Colorado celebrating the governor’s proclamation. All lodges in Colorado will be meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 2 to commemorate the 150th anniversary. Centurion Lodge will meet with three other lodges that evening at the Mosaic Center, 1130 Panorama Dr., in Colorado Springs to enjoy an evening of fellowship and dinner and to view a presentation about the history of freemasonry in Colorado.
“We’re also going to open up our lodge (July 24) for our annual picnic and open house,” said Eugene Dobrzelecki, Worshipful Master of the Centurion Lodge. “We’ll be giving out three service awards and one scholarship grant during the picnic.”
The Centurion Lodge was established in 1979 and has remained an active participant in the Tri-Lakes community. Awards are annually handed out to fire, police and education personnel. This year’s awards — along with a $100 check — are going to police officer Ryan Koski of the Palmer Lake Police Department, paramedic Erin Lamb-Smith of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, and Lewis-Palmer High School music teacher George Douthit. Douthit’s son, Charles, is also receiving a $1,000 scholarship to help with his expenses at the University of Colorado.
The Centurion Lodge has 105 members and meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
“Masonry is about making good men better men,” said Bruce Fritzsche, an active member of the Centurion Lodge, as well as past Master and secretary. “We believe in the brotherhood of man and trying to improve our moral and ethical standards. We’re the ones you see at events wearing white aprons.”
For years, the Centurion Lodge has been involved in the Child ID program in the Tri-Lakes area. Fritzsche said recent Hollywood films — like the National Treasure movies — focusing on Masonic beliefs and traditions have made more people aware of Masons and Shriners (a branch of the Masons) and what they do.
“It puts it out there in front of the public,” he said. “It’s always nice to have good publicity.”
Each local Masonic lodge is formed for the purpose of charity, relief and youth assistance in their respective communities. Aside from the charities supported by local lodges, Colorado Masons contribute to programs at Children’s Hospital and award 14 four-year scholarships each valued at $7,000 per year to worthy applicants attending Colorado institutions of higher learning.
Masonry is the world’s oldest and largest fraternity for men. Although the details of Masonry’s beginnings are lost, records show that in 1717 four lodges met in a London coffeehouse and formed the first Grand Lodge or association of lodges. That was the beginning of modern day Freemasonry.
Masonry entered this country more than 250 years ago. Benjamin Franklin, an active Mason, printed the first Masonic book published in the United States and George Washington and other American leaders were also active Masons.