Mac Arthur Lodge No. 183
Named in honor of General Douglas MacArthur. During the onslaught of the Japanese invasion forces in 1941, the defense plan of General MacArthur could not stem the advances of the enemy and thus he was compelled to withdraw to Australia. His promise to liberate the country echoed in his now famous phrase: “I shall return" and triumphantly he did.
MW Samuel Hawthorne made MacArthur a Mason at sight in 1936. He played several important roles in Masonry, and is best remembered for having opened Japan to Masonry. In a letter to Dr. L. Wade Temple, Jr., Grand Master of Masons in South Carolina, dated July 17, 1957, MacArthur said:
"While in Japan I did all in my power to encourage the development of Freemasonry under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines. It made rapid strides and in time embraced within its folds many Japanese leaders of distinction who impressed me as most seriously dedicated to the Craft."
In 1950, when Grand Master Clifford C. Bennett delivered his message to the Grand Lodge, he spoke on the Masonic Horizon in the Far East and expressed the hope that the Grand Lodge would establish a lodge in Korea "as soon as conditions will warrant."
Four years later a petition was filed by brethren stationed in Korea for an authority to form a Philippine lodge in Seoul to be named Na Num Gok Handa Lodge. Grand Master Mauro Baradi gave them a dispensation on March 17, 1954. The following year his successor, Grand Master Werner P. Schetelig, visited Korea and flew to Pusan on October 8,1955 to investigate the possibility of establishing a second Philippine lodge there. He entrusted the formation of the lodge in Pusan to Bro. J. Miller, a Past Warden of a lodge in Cebu, but Miller was transferred to Seoul and no progress was made. When MW Schetelig returned to Seoul, he spoke to Bro. Bernheisel, a member of Han Yang Lodge under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, about Masonic conditions in Seoul. Told that Han Yang Lodge had difficulty surviving, MW Schetelig decided that it would be unwise to extend the dispensation of Na Num Gok Handa Lodge. So ended, for the meanwhile, initiatives to establish lodges in Seoul and Pusan in Korea under Philippine jurisdiction.
Eleven years later, another attempt was made to organize a lodge in Korea. On January 15, 1966, Grand Master Raymond E. Wilmarth issued a dispensation for the formation of MacArthur Lodge in Seoul. He visited the organizers on June 26, and six days later the founders formally established MacArthur Lodge, UD. At the annual communication held in April 1967, the Committee on Charters reported that MacArthur Lodge had been holding regular meetings since its organization and had initiated eighteen candidates, passed sixteen of them and raised twelve to the 3rd degree. Upon the recommendation of the Committee, MacArthur Lodge was granted a charter and assigned number 183.
MacArthur Lodge No. 183 was officially constituted on June 3, 1967. Grand Master Mariano Q. Tinio, Grand Secretary Esteban Munarriz and Senior Grand Lecturer Hermogenes Oliveros enplaned for Seoul to conduct the ceremonies. MW Tinio presided over the constitution of the lodge, while MW Munarriz installed the officers with the help of VW Oliveros.
For years, MacArthur Lodge No. 183 had an itinerant existence. All this, however, changed in 1981. At the annual communication of the Grand Lodge that year, VW George Krause, then DDGM of District 30, had this to say:
Finally after years of frustration and moving from building to building, MacArthur Lodge No. 183 moved into its permanent temple. MacArthur Lodge No. 183 has combined with all other Masonic Bodies in the Seoul area and constructed a beautiful temple, a first in Korea. Known as Korea Combined Masonic Bodies, we have started forward and Masonry will again make great strides as in the past. The building costs P192,000.00 located in Friendship Village in the heart of Seoul, Korea.
Location: Seoul, Korea