A MEMBER of the Southland Masonic Centre in Invercargill has been acknowledged for his years of pastoral care work.
During the recent dedication of the new Southland Masonic Centre in Invercargill, Brother Neil O’Rorke was awarded the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Masonry certificate and jewel in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Freemasonry as an Almoner (pastoral care) in Southland.
The jewel was rarely awarded, Mr O’Rorke said.
“It is the only one in Southland. I have been in the lodge for 40 years and not known anyone else to have one.
“Only six New Zealanders have one… it has to be earned.”
Being awarded the Order of Service allowed him, for Masonic purposes, to use the letters OSM after his name.
The jewel was so precious to Freemasonry, that it remained the property of the Grand Lodge and had to be returned to the Grand Secretary after Mr O’Rorke’s death.
A member of the organisation for 40 years, Mr O’Rorke was very active in the fellowship, especially with charity and community work.
Since joining in 1981, he had risen through the Masonic ranks, attaining the posts of Junior Warden in 1997, Senior Warden in 1998 and Lodge Almoner in 2010. As well as receiving a 25-year Badge in 2006, he received his Master Mason certificate in 1982, was acknowledged on the Roll of Honour in 2016, and had his name engraved on the Grand Lodge Roll of Honour in 2017.
Part of his duties as a Lodge Almoner was to visit the sick and widowed, which took up a lot of his time, he said.
As well as being a Freemasons charity officer for Southland, he was also a trustee of the Southland Masonic Charitable Trust which raised funds for community groups and projects, such as St John Ambulance and the Salvation Army food bank.
People didn’t realise what the Freemasons Charity did, he said.
“It’s awesome being involved in the work… it’s a pleasure.”
The most recent acknowledgement had been a great surprise, he said, especially as it had been “sprung” on him at the dedication service last month of the new Masonic centre – the Lodge of Remembrance which had relocated to the Invercargill Bridge Club building, Elles Rd, after the sale of the former Forth St lodge.
“Nobody knew, it was a complete surprise.
“I was overwhelmed with the honour.”
The Grand Master Graham John Wrigley, who had travelled from Christchurch for the opening, bestowed the honour.