Friday, July 25, 2014

Teen service group rooted in history

March 22. 2014 2:10PM
By Joe Healey

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For one Wyoming Area teen, it’s about respect, friendship and leadership.

Logan Campbell, 16, a ninth-grader at Wyoming Area, is helping his group, the Susquehanna Chapter Order of DeMolay, celebrate its 95th anniversary.

The Order of DeMolay is a Masonic service organization for young men between the ages of 12 and 21 that has roots dating back 700 years.

The Order of DeMolay takes its name from Jacques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the historic Knights Templar. These men who were both knights and monks, protected pilgrims on their travel to and from the Holy Lands. DeMolay gave his life rather than betray his friends. His example of friendship and devotion is the underlying lesson of the group.

The Templars were hated and envied by King Philip IV of France and he often trumped up charges against them. DeMolay was jailed for more than seven years and was tortured into making a false confession, which he later recanted. In those days, “recanting” a confession was punishable by death, and so, on March 18, 1314, DeMolay was burned at the stake near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Campell explained the local group is in competition with other chapters across the state for getting proclamations from government officials to help celebrate DeMolay Month in March and to get the word out about the service thes young men are doing each day.

Duryea and West Wyoming recently passed proclamations, thanks to Campbell’s efforts.

“I wrote to about a dozen towns asking them to help me out,” he said. “We need town proclamations in order to let them know we’re here and to let them know if they need any help, they can call on us.”

Recently, the group rakied leaves and placed a monument at the Wyoming Monument. Other projects include Read Across America at the Wyoming Library, Basketball Weekend at Elizabethtown University, Devotional Day at the Forty Fort United Methodist Church, marching in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day Parade and volunteering at the Shrine Circus.

“We’ll be helping people to their seats, ushering,” he said. “We’ll also be serving sno-cones and hot dogs.”

Campbell said the group got started in the U.S. after World War I for boys who lost their fathers in the war.

“To get them off the street,” he said. “And to teach manners and respect and leadership.”

The local chapter got up and running again in 2010 after several years of inactivity. There are 50 local members, he said.

Campbell, the Master Counselor of the Susquehanna Chapter, is the son of Joseph and Ellen Campbell, of Monument Avenue, Wyoming. His older brothers, Paul Starosta, 27, and Joseph Campbell, 18, were previously involved in the organization.

Ellen was previously involved in the female group, the International Order of Rainbow for Girls. “I learned a lot and my boys did, too,” she said.

The group meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at the Lodge 61 on North Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre. Although Templars were traditionally Christian, the Order of DeMolay is open to young men of all religious faiths.

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