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Most Excellent Companion
Richard D. Baskin, KYGCH
Grand High Priest


As I begin my journey as the 162nd Grand High Priest, I thank you for your trust and confidence in electing me to serve you as your Grand High Priest. Barb and I are very much looking forward to meeting and visiting with you.

When I joined the Grand Line, my main concern was not what I was getting into, but what did I bring to the table that could benefit Capitular Masonry. Since that time I have had the privilege of working with some truly great Masons and I have learned from each of them. What I have observed was that each one brought a passion and a drive to work for the betterment of the fraternity. Not for personal gain, but to give selflessly to his Companions. Along side these men were their wives. Although not Masons, they worked tirelessly to support their husband’s efforts. For many of us, we would not be able to participate in our great Fraternity to the extent we do if it wasn’t for the support of our wives. This simple fact will be a recurring theme throughout my year, to recognize the significant contribution our wives have made to our Fraternity.

My Lapel pin for this year depicts the message I want to bring to you this year. In the center is the Keystone, situated below the words “LIVE YOUR MASONRY”, and framed by the words Family, Tradition and Values.

The words “LIVE YOUR MASONRY” are to remind us that as we go through our daily lives, we are constantly identified by our rings and emblems as Masons. Our actions show the world what it means to be a Mason and live by the tenants of our great fraternity.

As you know, the Keystone is the wedge-shaped stone at the apex of a masonry arch. It is the final piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position, allowing the arch to bear weight. Its relevance, aside from the its physical purpose, is to remind us that it can only be made by use of the chisel and mallet, the square and compass.

We have all experienced the importance of stones in Freemasonry. There are explanations concerning the rough and perfect ashlars, the keystone and the cornerstone. Although cryptic, they represent profoundly important concepts concerning the qualities of stones in their rude and natural state and how they can be transformed for the builder’s use by the working tools of our Craft. Appling these same principles to ourselves we too can be transformed.

As the builder places his mark upon the stone, we too place our mark on our work, not physically, but figuratively. Our mark is our character, that outward projection to the world that demonstrates that we too have been shaped by the tools of the Fraternity.

The words Family, Tradition and Values framing the Keystone remind us that this is how we live our Masonry. The family is the foundation of our society, where values are taught and traditions passed down.

Our families provide a setting for much of the growth we experience in life. In our families we love, serve, teach, and learn from each other. We share our joys and our sorrows. Family ties may bring us difficult challenges, but they also give us strength and some of our greatest happiness.

As Royal Arch Masons, we not only have our traditional family, but also our Masonic family, in which we are also able to learn and grow. Both are important to our spiritual well being and form the building blocks of our character.

Values define our core beliefs, a set of guidelines that cause us to act in a particular manner. They are not situational or convenient; they are the boundaries of our actions. Although many may think this to be a bit out dated, I find it to hold me in good stead in a world increasingly more and more divided by political and religious differences, and what appears to be a lack of direction. I believe it is important to have a set of values that will help you maintain a steady course.

Masonry, both Blue Lodge and Royal Arch, is rich in tradition and we will work to ensure our Companions have the opportunity to discover this rich history. It is important that we understand and pass this on. The new Companion coming into the Chapter for the first time is much more educated about Masonry than many of us were when we started, but will be seeking answers from us. By being able to explain our ritual and traditions, they will find that the Royal Arch Masonry is as relevant today as it was a century ago.

The Past Grand High Priests that have gone before me have given us a solid foundation to build on and we will continue in that vein as we improve the Royal Arch experience, build our arch and set our own keystone.

Most Excellent Companion
Richard D. Baskin, KYGCH
Grand High Priest, Royal Arch Masons
San Diego Chapter No. 61 & Barb
Star Royal Arch Masons of California
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