Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d’Amérique
Special ceremonies for the initiation of new members are organized in most of
our Councils at least once a year; in other Councils, these ceremonies take
place every three months or at any time when a sufficient n amber of new
candidates have been recruited. These solemn initiations are always a notable
event in any locality, and help maintain the interest of our members. They are
also conducive to a better knowledge of our Society. The Councils that do not
deem it useful to organize a solemn ceremony of initiation or that are
financially unable to do so, must however initiate their new members during
their regular meetings and in conformity with the prescriptions of the ritual.
The complete text for a solemn initiation and all instructions relating thereto
are given hereafter.
An initiation during a regular meeting shall be conducted by the president, the dean, the vice-president and the honorary president, in accordance with the ritual.
The complete French ritual, a copy of which has been forwarded by the General Board to each Council, gives all the necessary instructions and the marching diagrams which the master of ceremonies of the Council may need for the required movements of the degree team in connection with the initiation of candidates during a regular meeting.
As a rule, when several candidates are to be initiated, they should be represented by four or six candidates who, in the name of all, take the membership pledge. If the Juvenile Department has a part in the initiation, four little boys and four little girls, as representatives of the children enrolled in the Juvenile Department, constitute a most charming group.
Ritual Ceremony of Initiation
When the time has arrived for the ceremony, the president of the local Council assumes the chair and orders the invited guests to be escorted to their respective seats.
The initiation officers remain in waiting in the ant-room.
President: The purpose of this meeting is to initiate new members in L'Union Saint-Jean-
I am informed that the initiation officers are in the anteroom; the master of ceremonies will kindly advise them that we are now ready for the ceremony.
The degree team forms its ranks and marches to the door of the anteroom.
The first marshal opens the door and invites the initiation officers to enter into the meeting-room: the master of ceremonies meets them and invites them to follow him. They march two by two.
The audience rises.
The master of ceremonies escorts the initiation officers to the station of the president.
Master of Ceremonies: Mr. President, I have the great honor of presenting to you the representatives of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique who have come to initiate our new members in the Society.
President: Gentlemen, in behalf of this Council, I bid you a most cordial welcome.
You are the representatives of a Society which we were happy to join and to the success of which we have pledged ourselves to cooperate.
We are in need of counsel and encouragement; we expect both from you who, in the past, have proven yourselves so devoted to this noble cause.
Master of ceremonies, please escort these officers to their respective chairs.
The master of ceremonies escorts the initiation president to the platform. The latter shakes hands with the president of the Council who introduces him to the surrounding group of persons. In the meantime, the master of ceremonies and the degree team escort the waiting initiation officers (vice-president. dean, honorary president) to their respective chairs.
When all the officers have been seated, the degree team takes up its position in the form of a cross.
The president of the Council then addresses the Initiation president.
President: Sir, I now surrender the presidential chair to you as presiding officer of this meeting.
The president of the Council withdraws and places himself amongst the invited guests on the platform.
Initiation President: The spiritual adviser will kindly offer prayer.
If a priest is present, he offers prayer as requested by the initiation president; Our Father, Holy Mary and the invocation Saint John the Baptist, pray for us. The audience rises for the prayer.
Initiation President: We shall now proceed with the initiation of new members.
Mr. Secretary, have the candidates to be initiated duly complied with all the requirements of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique and of the Council?
Secretary: Yes, Mr. President, these candidates are recommended by our Board of directors and the General Board. They have been balloted favorably and have signed their applications for an insurance certificate.
Initiation President: Mr. Collector, have the candidates paid the initiation fee and their first assessment?
Collector: Yes, Mr. President, the candidates have paid all their dues to the Council and to the Society.
Initiation President: The master of ceremonies will please notify the candidates that we are ready to admit them into our ranks.
A march is played on the piano. The degree team turns to the right and its members, marching in double file, follow the master of ceremonies to the entrance door.
The first marshal opens the door of the anteroom and invites the candidates to enter into the meeting-room; the master of ceremonies meets them and invites them to follow him.
The audience rises.
The candidates or their representatives follow the degree team and the master of ceremonies who escort them to the chair of the initiation president.
The master of ceremonies always turns to the right in escorting the candidates to the chairs of the different initiation officers during the movements required of the degree team by the ritual for an initiation which takes place during a regular meeting.
Master of Ceremonies: Mr. President, it is with pleasure that I present these candidates who wish to become members of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique.
President: We are glad to greet you in the ranks of our Society. Yon shall now submit to the initiation test and take the solemn obligation required of all members.
The master of ceremonies will now present these candidates to the dean.
The master of ceremonies gives the salutation sign and conducts the candidates to the station of the dean.
Master of Ceremonies: Brother Dean, I take pleasure in presenting these candidates who wish to join our ranks.
Dean: Gentlemen, in behalf of the members of this Council, I welcome you. The purpose of our Society is to unite in a true spirit of brotherhood all persons of French origin residing in the United States, promote their individual and collective betterment and provide relief to its members and their beneficiaries.
We also aim to inspire amongst the members of our Society a greater devotion and respect for the Catholic faith, assure the preservation of the French language and encourage its increased use amongst French-Americans as well as bring about the practice of Christian charity amongst its members.
Briefly, your membership in L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique is a pledge that you shall be as an example to the entire French-American population and you thereby assume serious responsibilities.
Are you willing to obligate yourselves in this manner?
Dean: Master of ceremonies, please escort the candidates to the station of the vice-president.
The president orders the members to be seated.
The master of ceremonies conducts the candidates to the station of the vice-president.
Master of Ceremonies: Brother Vice-president, I am pleased to present these candidates who request that you acquaint them with the obligations imposed upon the members of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique by the Constitution and Laws.
Vice-President: Gentlemen, our dean has just told you that your membership in our Society carries with it the obligation for you to stand as an example for your compatriots; therefore, you well understand that it is your duty to always remain staunch and faithful Catholics. You must also exert your utmost influence to instil a greater love for the French language in your families and in your social environment.
The other obligations of importance and incumbent upon all the members of our Society consist in faithfully complying with the Constitution and Laws which may be summarized under three principal headings:
1° Assessments and contributions must be paid within the determined period; we understand and practise the virtue of brotherly love and we ask nothing more from you than a true spirit of willingness.
2° You have not the right to reveal to any person the discussions which may arise during the meetings. As you well understand, this is only an elementary protective measure; whatever transpires in our meetings must not become public knowledge, Debates which have been held during the meetings must not be continued on the street, in club rooms or in social gatherings. The welfare of our Society as well as our own interest, make this imperative and I wish particularly to lay stress upon this point in order that you may well realize its great significance.
3° Another obligation of foremost importance is that of complying with the decisions of the majority. The majority rules. Should you ever feel that an injustice has been perpetrated, you may always appeal to a higher tribunal of the Society.
Do you still persist in your resolution to become members of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique?
Vice-President: Master of ceremonies, please escort these candidates to the station of the honorary president.
The master of ceremonies and the candidates comply with this order.
Master of Ceremonies: Brother Honorary President, I have the honor to present these candidates who seek further information concerning the duties imposed upon the members of our Society.
Honorary President: Gentlemen, the purpose of our Society has been explained to you.
Your attention has been called to several of the important duties incumbent upon membership in L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amerique. I have been intrusted, however, with the task of speaking to you on the most important of these duties, the one that includes all others: charity.
Should ill fortune befall any of our acquaintances, let us be guided by the spirit of charity and fraternal love. If we are unable to extend financial aid, may our kind words and comforting sympathy afford at least solace and consolation.
Our Constitution and Laws impose upon us all the sacred duty of watching over the orphans and the widow of a deceased brother member. May we ever be mindful of this duty. Let us even extend our benevolence to all poor, unfortunate and forsaken children; let us endeavor to bring to them the kindness of Christian charity; let us brighten their lives with encouraging hopes and, if possible, provide them with the means of obtaining a good education. It will be a worthy achievement for the country as well as for the faith. And yet, our brotherly love should reach further. Should any fellow-member be forgetful of his duty, let us be kind to him; rather that magnify his wrong doings, may our efforts tend to find excuse for his evil ways notwithstanding our regret for his errors. Let us spread good counsel amongst those about him and endeavor by every means to return him to the path of rectitude.
There is still more. May the spirit of charity extend to those who speak ill of or slander us. Let us never judge rashly a member of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique and still less one of its officers.
Your enrolment, in our Society is proof that you intend to do everything in your power to promote its welfare and development. Always remember that the other members of the Society are inspired with the same lofty motives. Be ever respectful of the opinions of your fellow-members as you would have them respect your own.
Are yon willing to govern yourselves in accordance with these principles and assume the obligations resulting therefrom, as the fullness of the duties incumbent upon true Catholics and faithful members of this Society?
Honorary President: Master of ceremonies, please escort these candidates to the station of the president.
The master of of ceremonies conducts the candidate to the station of the president.
Master of Ceremonies: Mr. President, I present these candidates who wish to take the solemn obligation required of all members of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amériqne.
Initiation President: Gentlemen, you have listened attentively to the instructions which have been given to you. The importance of discretion, self-sacrifice and more particularly of charity has been emphasized before your eyes. You are now acquainted with the duties which all members of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique are expected to fulfil. These duties and obligations have not alarmed you and, because of that, I extend to you my hearty congratulations. I also thank you for joining our ranks.
Let us never forget that we have been intrusted with the fulfilment of a most important duty in this country. If we wish the growth and the prosperity of our race, we must assume our share of responsibilities and fulfil our mission with unfailing courage. With Unity in our ranks, we shall be more powerful, we shall bring to one another mutual encouragement so that when days of stress and trials sadden our life, we shall find friends to comfort and assist us.
No man lives, however humble may be his station in life, who does not wield a certain influence among his fellowmen.
It is therefore incumbent upon us, within the scope of our activities, to set a good example to all; inspired with the spirit of self-sacrifice and true charity, we can accomplish a great deal of good. There lies our duty, let us ever keep it in mind.
There still remains a question of utmost importance upon which I desire to call your attention.
I refer to naturalization. We are living in this country under the protection of a glorious flag, the Star Spangled Banner, which we must love with the devotion of sincere patriots. It is the flag of our country. We owe it allegiance and fidelity. Therefore, if you have not as yet become American citizens, it is your duty to take at once the necessary steps for that purpose. To this end, our Society will give you all the assistance possible.
I shall now read the solemn obligation to our Society; listen carefully.
The audience rises.
Are you practising Catholics?
Do you promise to keep secret the discussions and all that transpires during the meetings of your Council or of its committees?
Do you pledge yourselves to be temperate in and drinking?
Do you promise to comply in their entirely with the Constitution and Laws of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique?
May Almighty God have you in His holy keeping and may He strengthen you for the faithful fulfilment of all these obligations.
By virtue of the authority conferred upon me as presiding officer of this ceremony, I now proclaim you members of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique entitled to all the rights and privileges granted by the Constitution and Laws.
The president orders the members to be seated.
Initiation President: Fellow-members, you are now members of L'Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Amérique. You have made several promises, it is your duty to keep them well; to your compatriots, you must be an example. This Council relies upon your influence and your zealous efforts; be generous of both.
Master of ceremonies, please escort these new members to their seats and give them the proper instructions as to the manner of entering the meeting-room and retiring therefrom during a meeting. Advise them also as to the manner in which all members must conduct themselves in assembly.
Initiation President: Mr. President, I now yield into your care the chairmanship of this meeting with which I was intrusted at the beginning of this ceremony and I wish for yourself and for your Council the best of success.
The initiation president surrenders the chair to the president of the Council and the latter carries out the program prepared in advance for the occasion.