An Exaltation of Almoners!
At a meeting of Warwickshire Installed Masters’ Lodge, this photo was taken to record nearly twenty years of diligent service to our wonderful Province by four special brethren who all have one particular thing in common – they have all been the Provincial Grand Almoner. I was considering just what could be the collective noun for such a group and came upon an exaltation that apparently normally describes larks. I’ve no idea if they all get up very early but they are all members of the Royal Arch so I thought it most appropriate.
The Almoner was traditionally a chaplain or church officer who was in charge of distributing money to the deserving poor. For many years, before the introduction of the office of Charity Steward, it was the lodge Almoner who collected the alms as well as distributing them. The Almoner plays a vital part in the life of every lodge by keeping in touch with all lodge members, especially those who for various reasons are unable to attend Lodge. With people now living longer, and typically remaining in their own homes, the work of the Almoner will continue to expand.
An Almoner’s flock is not simply restricted to lodge members but also includes dependents and widows. When times are hard with financial or medical issues, he needs to ensure that the individual is fully aware of what is available from the State as well as how the Masonic Charitable Foundation may also be able to help. Once such cases are identified, they are passed to the Provincial Almoner who can provide support, guidance and advice to all lodge Almoners, as well as managing various petitions for assistance.
It is a job that’s carried out quietly and is often unsung. An Almoner needs to be an adviser, supporter and friend. Crucially, they also need to detect that help is required in the first place. Almoners at any level embody the spirit of Freemasonry; their community work is not performed for show but because of a concern for others.