This is the December/January Cactus issue, and there are not only a few things to cover, but also some things to finalize. Last month, I talked about the Fall Ceremonial in general terms. I would like to be a little more specific now and announce that it was a fantastic, very meaningful Fall Ceremonial! Once again we honored all the Nobles who were ever in service to our great country, in all branches of the service! And the Directors Staff did an amazing job in bringing a new vision to our Ceremonial in performing The Arch Ceremony, which explains how the Masons and Shrine came to be! Paul Berndt and Bill Schepeler took the lead on this, and the other members of the unit took it to heart and really brought it to life! I want to sincerely thank the entire unit for their hard work. By the time that little boy walked out of the Arch, there were not very many dry eyes in the Temple. We had special MSA officer guests who joined us here – Rusty Mitchell and his wife Teddie – from Baja Shrine out of Green Bay, WI, and he was totally captivated by the ceremony. We are hoping it will become an annual inclusion at Ceremonial. And I want to thank the Culinary Unit for once again service a great lunch and a very satisfying table full of snacks after the Fall Ceremonial was concluded.

We brought in 12 new Nobles that day. With the Spring Ceremonial and the Cold/Lukewarm Sands that have been done, along with two more yet to come during November and December, we hope to be close to 70 new Nobles for 2018! Well done, Membership Committee, headed by PP John Archer and Charlie Brown! And Nobles, keep bringing your friends, family, and co-workers so El Riad’s growth will continue!

Katie Winckler, our local Shrine Patient Ambassador, attended the Ladies Luncheon where she shared some of the stories of her early times as a patient at Shriners Hospital for Children. She explained how she set goals all her life to accomplish things, and this year was no different. She wanted to run a mile without stopping, which she did in 6 1/2 minutes! She wanted to climb to the highest point in South Dakota, which she did! She planned to run four miles without stopping and ended up running 3 1/2 miles. She is currently making a decision as to her career after graduation from Augustana University this Spring. She will either teach in Germany or in Alaska! Katie also attended the fall session at the temple and shared her story with the Nobles. She inquired about and has consented to be at the Shrine Patients Christmas Party and share her story with our patients and families. Can you imagine how much she will inspire those young children and their parents, showing them how much they can accomplish once they set their minds to it! Thank you, Katie, for giving us a glimpse into your life!

November brought the turkey toss and the Pre-Thanksgiving gathering on consecutive Wednesday night socials! Fun was had by everyone who attended the events!

And now it’s time for the Christmas Unit Parties, where many stories will be told, many drinks will be downed, and many calories will be consumed, along with honoring the outgoing club presidents for their service! The Divan has been starving themselves so they can take on those added calories during the next few weeks. I have a feeling that a few diets will also be taken on during January! Lady Marla and I are more than a little sad that our time of close involvement with and getting to know so many wonderful Nobles and Ladies is coming to a close much sooner than we thought it would! 2018 at first appeared to move along a little slow, but as the year progressed it did indeed act like a roll of toilet paper; the closer we got to the end, the faster it went! That being said, we have no intention of staying away – you’ll continue to see us around!

Another Shrine Patients Christmas Party is planned for December 2, under the leadership of Steve Haase. The committee has again given the children a bright spot in their hearts for Christmas. Santa will be joining us with special gifts. The games and toys have a circus theme, and we have so many volunteers who offered their time to help make the day a success! It will be another amazing event held under this roof!

If you have not had a chance to enjoy the beautiful new front of the Temple, please take time during the Christmas season to drive by and see what has been updated! Our building is continually being updated so it remains a beautiful part of Downtown Sioux Falls! You can all be proud of your involvement in your units giving to the Building Fund!

Lady Marla and I also need to thank our Shrine Staff – Gail Gustafson, Gary Smith, Joel and Kent Quail! They are so organized and have been so willing to help us out with anything we’ve asked them to do! We are lucky to have them here!

Installation will be in January, and the torch will be passed on to John Whitelock, Lady Ralynn, and their team. John has some great ideas for the year 2019 and his great team is behind him. Thanks, John, for your help and guidance. Over the last nine years, we have worked as a team and I appreciate all of your support. Good luck and best wishes during your term as Potentate!

This last Ceremonial as Potentate brings a smile to my face but also some sadness. Being involved for over 10 years in the decision-making process will be gone, and my renewed life as a Noble in El Riad— the best Shrine in the world—will start again. Lady Marla and I will miss the time in the sun, but will never forget the kind people who have helped us over the years. We’ve had the most amazing team ever and thank them for the time they shared with us! It has been a great privilege to serve El Riad and the children of our Shrine system. 

Please continue to HAVE FUN AND INSPIRE SOMEONE EVERY DAY! Thank you!

Maury “Big Moe” Richard
2018 Potentate, El Riad Shrine

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