Chicago Council Princes of Jerusalem

2023-2024 Annual Report

Illustrious Active, Illustrious Deputy Representative, Thrice Potent Master, Most Wise Master, Commander-in-Chief, Past Sovereign Princes, Officers of Chicago Council Princes of Jerusalem, and Princes all,

The following constitutes my report for the Scottish Rite fraternal year 2023-2024.
The Children’s Dyslexia Center of Metropolitan Chicago a Scottish Rite Charity held a Graduation and Awards Ceremony last year on May 25, organized by the Board of Governors led by Chairman Alan Betker, KCCH, at the Valley of Chicago. This event celebrated with family and friends the achievements and resilience of individuals with dyslexia, acknowledging their academic successes and personal growth despite the challenges they may have faced.

The graduation ceremony included an inspiring speech from a student, highlighting the journey of overcoming dyslexia and the importance of perseverance and self-belief. Graduates were recognized individually, walking across the stage to receive their diplomas and certificates.
The Dyslexia Graduation and Awards Ceremony was a testament to the strength, courage, and achievements of individuals with dyslexia. By celebrating their successes and recognizing their contributions, the event reaffirmed the importance of creating inclusive environments that empower individuals with dyslexia to thrive and succeed.

After an extensive search and rigorous evaluation of numerous candidates, Eric M. Smith, 33° was selected to join the Valley of Chicago as the new Executive Secretary. Eric brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role, along with a strong commitment to excellence and a demonstrated track record of success in administrative management.  Throughout the interview process, Eric impressed us with his exceptional organizational skills, effective communication abilities, and proactive approach to problem-solving. His previous experience in similar roles, coupled with his enthusiasm for our fraternal mission and values, convinced us that he is the ideal candidate to lead our administrative functions and support the executive team in achieving our strategic objectives. As Executive Secretary, Eric is responsible for overseeing office operations, managing administrative tasks, and providing crucial support to our executive team. We are confident that his leadership, professionalism, and dedication will greatly contribute to the continued success and growth of our fraternity.

The Scottish Rite Charity’s Annual Children’s Dyslexia 5K Walk/Run on September 9 was a resounding success, managed by Robert Kogut, MSA, bringing together individuals passionate about raising awareness and supporting children with dyslexia. Through community engagement, advocacy, and fundraising efforts, the event served as a beacon of hope for those affected by dyslexia, reaffirming the importance of compassion, understanding, and inclusivity in building a brighter future for all. Participants, clad in vibrant t-shirts emblazoned with the walkathon’s logo, embarked on a scenic route around the Spring Creek Reservoir.

The Valley of Chicago Fall Reunion brought together members from across the region to celebrate our shared heritage and traditions. This year’s 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party theme added a profound layer of historical context, emphasizing the enduring values that resonate deeply within our Masonic Fraternity.
One of the highlights of the event was the recognition of Richard T. Carnall, MSA, 33° as the Class Honoree. By honoring Richard T. Carnall at the Fall Reunion, we not only pay tribute to his individual achievements but also reaffirm the bonds of camaraderie and mutual respect that define our fraternity. His leadership serves as an inspiration to us all, encouraging greater engagement and participation within the Scottish Rite. The Valley of Chicago Fall Reunion was a resounding success, bringing together members to commemorate our shared history and celebrate the values that unite us. We look forward to building upon this momentum as we continue to uphold the legacy of Scottish Rite Freemasonry.

The Valley of Chicago Spring Reunion included various Degrees with the 16th Degree Prince of Jerusalem as a radio program directed by Alan Betker, KCCH. The inclusion of the 16th Degree in the Spring Reunion added an intriguing and innovative dimension to the Reunion.

Prior to the reunion, extensive planning and preparation were required to adapt the 16th Degree ritual into a format suitable for radio broadcast. This would involve scripting the dialogue, coordinating sound effects, and arranging for voice actors to portray the various characters within the ritual.

The theater was set up as a makeshift radio studio equipped with microphones, recording equipment, and soundproofing to ensure optimal audio quality. The ritualistic elements of the 16th Degree would be conveyed through narration and dialogue, with voice actors bringing the characters and scenes to life. Sound effects, music, and atmospheric ambiance would enhance the immersive experience for listeners, transporting them into the world of the ritual. Members gathered in the theater to listen to the radio program live as it unfolded.

By incorporating the 16th Degree as a radio program into the Spring Reunion, the Valley of Chicago added a creative twist to its traditional format while preserving the solemnity and significance of the ritualistic experience. It offers members a unique opportunity to engage with Masonic teachings in a new and innovative way, fostering deeper understanding, reflection, and fellowship within the fraternity.

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Director Alan Betker, Assistant Director Ozzie Trejo, and actors for their exceptional performances. Your unwavering commitment to the craft and the depth of emotion you brought to the 16 Degree truly made it come alive. Thank you for sharing your artistry with us and for leaving such a lasting impression with your fine work.

The Spring Reunion Class Honoree was Past Sovereign Prince J. Kenneth Ludwig, 33°. Kenneth Ludwig’s contributions to the Masonic Fraternity have been diverse and impactful, reflecting his deep commitment to the principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth. His leadership, philanthropy, educational efforts, and promotion of Masonic values have enriched the lives of countless Brethren within the fraternity.

Thank you to all the Past Sovereign Princes for their invaluable guidance and wisdom. Your dedication and commitment have paved the way for our continued success, and your insights continue to inspire and shape our actions. We are grateful for the legacy you have left behind, and we will strive to honor it as we move forward.

Thank you to my fellow Presiding Officers, Russell A. Scanlan, MSA, 33°, Thrice Potent Master, Kristeffor D. Caldwell, 33°, Most Wise Master, and Brandon A. Zears, Commander-In-Chief. Russell Scanlan brought new ideas to the Valley including an outing to “Feed My Starving Children”, a local Charity night at the Valley, and a Car Show. It was a pleasure working together with Kristeffor and Brandon during their last year as Presidings.

A thank you to our office team, including Mike Kuniej, handling Membership, and Debbie Pasiewicz, overseeing Marketing and Operations. Your commitment and hard work are truly appreciated, and we’re immensely grateful for your valuable contributions to the Valley of Chicago.

A special thanks to the Council Officers for their dedication, passion, and selfless contributions to the Valley of Chicago. We are blessed to have such an incredible team of officers serving on different committees or events including Director of Works, Children’s Dyslexia Center, Bike MS Rest Stops, Audio/Video, and Degree Actors.

Fraternally and Respectfully Submitted,
Joseph W. Pegoraro, MSA

Sovereign Prince