What Charity Means to Freemasonry
To be concerned for those in need is an essential quality of a Freemason’s way of life.
For centuries Freemasons have given to those needing assistance. Freemasonry is old. It was first organised in England in the early 17th century (but its origins go back much further) when ‘charity’ was the term for acts of giving to those who had little.
Today Freemasons still practice this virtue and ‘charity’ is still the name we use to describe our support for the many programmes of assistance we operate in the community.
The Freemasons University Scholarships are funded by The Freemasons Charity – the body within the organisation responsible for all the assistance we provide in many different fields, both directly, and by providing a helping hand to the nearly 300 Masonic Lodges throughout New Zealand working in their own local communities.
Traditionally, Masonic assistance has been known for its place in helping the elderly. Our involvement in the provision of retirement villages throughout New Zealand, helping to set and maintain standards for the care of our older citizens, has been the face of Freemasonry. This work continues. But as society has changed so has our benevolence diverged and education has become a spearhead.
For over two decades major funding has been provided for research at both the University of Auckland and the University of Otago in gerontology and brain disease, and paediatrics respectively.
Through our close association with the Royal Society of New Zealand we sponsor the ‘Freemasons Big Science Adventures’, an annual video competition for secondary schools where winning student teams experience exciting national and international travel.
The Freemasons University Scholarships have been in existence for many years, starting in a humble way over 30 years ago but now grown in size and stature to represent a significant boost to students’ academic or worldly progress into their careers. They are highly valued and vigorously competed for at all Universities and the winners are invariably outstanding students and young citizens. But the unique feature that distinguishes a Freemasons scholar is not an academic one but the quality of human caring so valued by Freemasons.
So why such a emphasis on education? Because Freemasons believe that knowledge is the source of individual freedom and leads to greater understanding and tolerance which builds peace and unity among all people.
The Freemasons University Scholarship programme has been running for many years encouraging students to go on, to do even better, to learn and contribute to our society.
We also will go on, striving to reach our ideals.