Gourgas Chapter Rose Croix

2021-2022 Annual Report

Brothers of the Valley of Chicago,
I was elected in our parking lot in front of ten people. I was re-elected in an outdoor tent the week the mask mandate fell. To stand here today back in our theater for this last address is all I could have asked for our membership and our Valley. I would like to thank every member for their faith and dedication throughout an uncertain year, and for coming home when we finally could open the doors. I personally thank my officers for their devotion to building a new era for the Gourgas Chapter, never backing down from opportunities to improve our degrees and our mission of supporting the charities of the Valley.

I cannot be grateful enough for the amazing executive committee of this last year. The four of us reopened at full sprint while working with each wave and precaution. The Valley has revived the Ancient Craft Degree Team to serve our lodges, launched a national education symposium that made history, and we’ve explored new events and formatting to best serve the needs of our membership. And while no one should ever feel pressured to do ritual, the fact the four of us did it all while we took leading roles in each of our degrees is something that is a rare milestone no one can take away from us. And none of this would be remotely possible without the incredible guidance, ingenuity, and raw endurance of Dave Koss and Debbie Pasiewicz who make our vision a reality.

Finally, I have to thank the Scottish Rite itself for something very few know about. I became a Mason at 21 when I was still a college student in a jacket from Salvation Army who walked to lodge because I didn’t have a car. When I hitched a ride to my first Reunion, the Brother joining with me spent half the drive warning me, ‘Guide, you’re too weird to be a Mason. Just keep your mouth shut and try and blend in.’ I took that as an order from a senior Brother and stayed seen but not heard as I worked as a hospitality usher. While I should be thanking Frank Winans for putting me in his line, my true thanks is the day he asked if I would take a part. That first role out under the lights changed my life. For the first time, I had the chance to become characters greater than myself, and weaving myself into stories that have been passed down for centuries with morals and lessons that are still needed today.

It’s no secret that the last place I want to be is around the banquet table or at the bar, some days I’m still the kid who was told I didn’t belong here. But there is no greater joy in my life than when I’m on stage and I disappear into the character, and throw their feelings and realizations to the crowd. Every role is a new door into another life. My most dreaded pain is the exact moment the curtain falls, and I’m standing there in costume as myself again and may never become that person again. I watch as new actors come and go, often they’re far better in the part than I’ll ever be, and do what should have been done all along. But I still miss each role like an old friend, and cherish the journey we took.

Serving as an officer and Most Wise Master is the greatest role I have ever known, and demanded I become someone far better than I was for the sake of thousands of Brothers. They needed more than a character or a lesson, they needed a leader who could endure the hardships of the office and the uncertainty of the day we live in. And more than all the others, leaving this role behind will be a deep source of pain and regret for me in the years to come as new Brothers take it further than I did. But just like that first walk onto the stage, just being a part of the story of Scottish Rite was the greatest moment of my life.

Xander ‘Guide’ J. Sobecki
Most Wise Master

Now that it’s time for the last curtain to fall,
all I can say is… thank you.