Richard H. Ryder, 2017
Serving as Master of your lodge is both a pleasure and an honor. If you have served in this capacity, you already know this; if you are soon to serve as Master, you will learn this very quickly. Either way, I am sure you will enjoy meeting Wor. Eric Gagne, past and again presiding Master of Celestial Lodge in Westwood, MA. I recently met with Wor. Brother Gagne to discuss his life and journey to the Oriental chair, his successes, and his recommendations to new Masters.
Born in Waterville, Maine in 1983, Wor. Brother Gagne grew up in Oakland, Maine with his parents, Laura and Randy, and his younger sister, Ashley. A 2004 graduate of the University of Maine’s Clark F. Miller School of Radiological Technology, Brother Gagne received a Certificate of Radiologic Technology, enabling him to administer radiation to medical patients. After graduation, he spent two years employed at Boston Medical Center’s emergency room, then three years at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is now a Senior Claims Examiner at Newbury Corp, an insurance company based in Dedham. His career change was prompted by a belief that the medical field was over saturated and that cutbacks were possible. Also, he felt the insurance industry was more lucrative and allowed more time with his wife, Laura, whom he married in 2011, and his young son, Aidan.
Some people who know Worshipful Gagne may not realize he is an accomplished magician, an outlet that renews his sense of wonder as a child and provides a brief escape from the real world. His interest extends to the history of magic, which explains his collection of antique magic items. In 2010 he performed each weekend at the Stuart Street Playhouse where over 50 people watched his “magic in the round”. Then, in 2011, Brother Gagne auditioned for the CBS television show, America’s Got Talent, briefly appearing during one of the broadcasts.
Worshipful Gagne’s interest in magic is linked to his interest in Freemasonry. He admires David Copperfield not just as a creative and talented magician, but also because he philanthropically and quietly gives time and money to children’s hospitals, the Make-A-Wish foundation, and his community. Also, Harry Houdini, Mason and magician, provided an early spark in Brother Gagne’s mind to look further into Freemasonry.
While living on Beacon Hill, Brother Gagne often walked by the Grand Lodge building in Boston, situated at the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets. Observing the symbols seen on other buildings, in movies, and elsewhere, he researched Freemasonry and inquired via Freemasonry.org. He was soon invited to dinner at Columbian Lodge in Boston and continued to attend events for over a year, wanting to ensure a good fit before taking the next step toward membership and a potentially lifelong commitment.
He was raised in 2011, but then moved to the suburban town of Medfield where distance and his professional responsibilities prevented active participation at lodge. However, his daily travels took him by the lodge building in Westwood, MA, where Celestial Lodge meets. After attending a lodge dinner, Brother Gagne soon affiliated, which began his journey to the East of this lodge.
Starting out as Senior Steward, he became Master in August of 2016. With one very successful year behind him, Worshipful Gagne was recently installed for a second term as Master. The most memorable event of the year occurred during his first monthly meeting, where the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts and his officers performed a carpet ceremony commemorating Celestial Lodge’s 150-year anniversary. The event went off flawlessly and provided a window into what would be a very successful year for Worshipful Gagne and his Lodge.
Worshipful Gagne attributes his successful first term to creating and executing a well-documented plan, started during his term as Senior Warden. He is a proponent of early planning, rather than last minute preparation. This enabled him to take the time to lay out his schedule and activities, and allowed adequate time to make changes. Everyone benefits from this approach, for the members and officers knew early on his goals and objectives. The plan promoted teamwork and provided a measurement tool for progress during the year. Although the plan was aggressive and reflected a “let’s get things done” approach, lodge officers and members bought into it and actively participated. Worshipful Gagne achieved 95% of his plan, wishing only that he could have held more outside social events, now part of his second-year plan.
There were other key success factors that contributed toward a rewarding year. Active and effective listening encouraged input, even if from different points-of-view. Compassion for others, often lost on those in authority, promoted mutual respect and dignity. The ability to delegate promoted shared responsibility and allowed others to experience success. Lastly, Brother Gagne’s entertainment skills in front of large audiences made him more comfortable speaking in front of the lodge, reflecting and reinforcing confident leadership
So, what was the most challenging aspect of being Master and what advice does Worshipful Gagne have for the newly installed Master? His biggest challenge was balancing his Masonic responsibilities with those of being a husband and father; a fine balancing act that all married Masters face. Worshipful Gagne was fortunate to have a supportive wife, who has witnessed Freemasonry’s positive influence on her husband. He also works hard at utilizing family time wisely. For the new Master, Brother Gagne recommends a well-planned year and if the Master is not a planner by nature, do it anyway with the help of someone who is.