Morristown Lodge opens its doors

MORRISTOWN -- When Ulysses Reyes moved from the Philippines to Morristown about a year ago, among his first stops was a visit to the Masonic Temple on Maple Avenue.
Reyes, an information technology worker, said he joined the Freemasons -- a centuries-old fraternal organization steeped in history and mystery -- in his native country and was looking to re-establish his connection.
Since "modes and manner of recognition'' are among the many closely guarded secrets of Freemasonry, Reyes -- among the attendees at a four-hour open house Saturday at the temple -
Reyes, however, said he was quickly welcomed into the local chapter of approximately 200 members.
By 2 p.m., only about a dozen visitors had ventured into the building, home of Cincinnati Lodge No. 3 since 1938. Masonic lodges throughout New Jersey opened their doors to the public
longtime, semi-annual tradition whose name derives from Masonic symbols, said member Alex Gillespie.
Gillespie said the square represents "squaring one's actions with virtue and morality,'' and the compass denotes "circumscribing your passions within due boundaries.''
Phil Caliolio, whose title is "worshipful master,'' maintained that interest in the Masons has heightened in recent years, in part due to references in movies such as "The da Vinci Code'' and "National Treasure.'' Gillespie, an attorney from Morristown, said members must believe in a Supreme Being, but not necessarily a particular religion, and that Masons perform charitable works but are not a charitable organization per se.
"We're not a secret society. We're a society with secrets,'' he said.
Meetings are held twice per month in Morristown, at which discussion is similar to "the ordinary business of any fraternal organization,'' Gillespie said.
The goal of Saturday's outreach, Gillespie added, was not necessarily boosting declining membership but raising awareness.
"Masonry in general is not as large as it was 20 years ago, but frankly that's good. Our quality is up,'' he said.
Before initiating a new member, Masons proceed with diligence, he explained.
"You wouldn't want someone who is right-handed to join a left-handed organization,'' he said.