When seventy-eight-year-old Harwood Island resident Frank Pizarro says “it’s good to be alive”, he attributes much of that feeling to his near 63-year association with Freemasons.
“The older I get the more fun I’m having,” he declares.
“I’m very grateful to Freemasonry, because when I was 16 years of age my dad, who was a Mason, had a heart attack; he died suddenly because he had polio when he was a boy, which strains the heart.
“He was a cripple with a walking stick and a crutch.”
Frank says his family never received welfare following his father’s death, “hence we were one of the poorest families in Liverpool”.
The Freemasons came to his family’s assistance.
“They had a boarding school at Baulkham Hills and they raised my two sisters at absolutely no cost to my mother, who was getting part-time work ironing and what-have-you.
“My sisters were found jobs when they graduated from school.”
At the age of eighteen Frank signed up to the organisation.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it for ten years or so, but then I had a young family and was working six or seven days a week; so I couldn’t attend lodge quite as often.
“But once you are joined and stay financial, you’re always a Mason.
“Through Masonry I’ve met people from all walks of life and everybody is equal.”
The Freemasons NSW & ACT’s website is forthright in stating its core ethics: mateship, equality, diversity, personal development, tolerance and honesty.
It’s not a religion but there is a prerequisite of acknowledging God’s existence.
“The only requirement is to believe in God, the creator,” says Frank.
“At a lodge meeting you are not supposed to talk about religion or politics because Masons are from all political beliefs.”
The Freemasons’ website asserts: “In a world often dictated by hate and segregation, membership of an organisation capable of uniting men of all religions, colours and even accents is more relevant than ever.
“Charity: Freemasonry puts its principles into practice through its charitable activities.
“We believe in interacting and working closely within our local communities to help all people in need and their communities as a whole.
“Honesty: Freemasonry practices strong moral principles and develops the core values of honesty and integrity in the individual
“Tolerance: Freemasonry believes that respecting and understanding our differences is a crucial step towards building a society and a community with true harmony and peace.
“Equality: Freemasonry offers a unique and rewarding experience to men from all walks of life, regardless of race, religion or social status.”
While women cannot directly join the Freemasons, they are catered for through the Order of the Eastern Star and its junior counterpart for girls, the Order of the Rainbow (as well as the Order of De Molay for boys).
These groups, whilst generally supported by Lodges, are not officially part of Freemasonry.
These days Frank enjoys a very comfortable and financially secure life as a result of his business endeavours and, he says, Freemasonry is at the core of his success.
“I became interested in business and all sorts of people are involved in Freemasonry … a lot of professional people – doctors, solicitors and so it goes; and the networking and friends made there were very helpful with my business life.”
But it’s not elitist; Frank says there are many “working class people in Freemasonry”.