THE STORY OF OMALA GROTTO
from the September/October 1981 (Volume 11, No. 1)
issue of "The Grotto" magazine

See also: GRAND MASTER JACK BALL MADE PROPHET ON SIGHT

Omala Grotto of San Antonio, Texas, was instituted April 29, 1948, chartered July 27, 1948, and held its last meeting December 18, 1962. Its charter was formally revoked June 18, 1963. From institution to revocation of charter, only 311 Prophets were initiated into Omala Grotto. The 311th Prophet was initiated August 31, 1960 (the only Prophet initiated during the year 1960) and no more Prophets were initiated into Omala Grotto after that date.

By comparison, Alzafar Shrine Temple (instituted, 1916) of San Antonio, Texas, initiated 477 new members in calendar year 1960. While Omala Grotto accumulated only a total of 311 members between 1948 and 1963, Alzafar Shrine Temple grew from a membership of 4,368 in 1948 to a membership of 6,180 at the end of 1962.

On June 1, 1979, an organizational meeting of five Prophets (one of whom was Prophet No. 311 in Omala Grotto; three Prophets who were members of Chinar Grotto of Houston, Texas, and resided in San Antonio, Texas; a demitted Past Monarch of Omala Grotto; and eighteen Freemasons) was held at Alzafar Shrine Temple in San Antonio, Texas, for the purpose of ascertaining if there were Freemasons interested in restoring the charter of Omala Grotto.

At this initial meeting, it was generally agreed that a restored Omala Grotto would not attempt to compete with Alzafar Shrine Temple. Instead, the social program of the Grotto would be to complement and supplement the social program offered by Alzafar Shrine Temple, acknowledging that a newly restored Grotto of fifty members could not compete with a Shrine Temple of 6,000-plus members and strong financial resources.

it was decided that the Grotto would not have units which characterize the Shrine, since unit compartmentalization tends to isolate one Freemason from another. The Grotto would not attempt to have a social every month as practiced by the Shrine, but would limit its social activities to approximately one every two or three months and be elegant social affairs. The social activities of the Grotto would be those not engaged in by the Shrine, but desired by the Freemasons of San Antonio. The activities would be distinguished social affairs in which a Freemason would be anxious to attend and participate. The Grotto would be characterized by intimacy and not distant relationships among the members. Without this unit compartmentalization, the Grotto could indeed merit the title of the "fraternity that friendship built".

It was and is the consensus of opinion of those who comprise the Grotto that those Freemasons who would be solicited for membership in the Grotto would be serious Freemasons. The Grotto would search out and bring to the attention of its members the leaders of all branches of Freemasonry and its appendant and allied orders. It was recognized that the old adage "If you want a job done, ask a busy man" should apply to the Grotto - "If you wanted an active participant in the Grotto, then ask a busy Freemason to join the Grotto."

To that end, the leadership of Freemasonry in San Antonio was solicited and became members of Omala Grotto. This has continued to this day. Present at the second organizational meeting which occurred on June 23, 1979, was the Chairman of the Inspector General's Advisory Conference for the Scottish Rite Valley of San Antonio, the Presiding Officer of one body of the Scottish Rite Valley of San Antonio, the Worshipful Master of the Mother Masonic Lodge of San Antonio, a High Priest of the Royal Arch Chapter, the Treasurer of the San Antonio Scottish Rite Bodies, the Secretary-Recorder-Registrar of the San Antonio Scottish Rite Bodies, the Secretary-Recorder of the San Antonio and the Blue Bonnet York Rite Bodies, the Potentate, two members of the Appointive Divan, and a Past Potentate of Alzafar Shrine Temple, the Chief of Staff, the Commander of the Heroes of '76 of National Sojourners, the Eminent Commander, Generalissimo, and Captain General of the San Antonio Commandery No. 7, Knights Templar, two District Deputy Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Texas, a member of the Committee on Work of the Grand Lodge of Texas, three 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Masons and two who would receive the 33rd Degree in October, 1979, and six KYCH members of the York Rite. Additionally, there were others included in the initial assemblage who were past or present Presiding Officers of Symbolic Lodges, York and Scottish Rite Bodies, and various allied and appendant bodies of Freemasonry. A number of those in the initial group that restored the charter of Omala Grotto had served in official positions in the Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter and Grand Council in the York Rite.

The Monarch at restoration of the charter was the Potentate of Alzafar Shrine Temple. The remaining elective officers of the Grotto included a Grand Lodge Official, a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason who is also a KYCH in the York Rite, the Treasurer of the Scottish Rite, the Membership Chairman of the Scottish Rite, and a District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. The present Monarch is both a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a KYCH in the York Rite, and has been a District Deputy in Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter and Grand Council. At the present time, the four presiding officers of the San Antonio Scottish Rite Bodies are members of the Grotto, including one who serves as Master of Ceremonies. Additionally, Grotto membership includes the present Commander of San Antonio Commandery No. 7, Knights Templar, and several presiding officers of other York Rite Bodies, two members of the elective Divan of Alzafar Shrine Temple, and the three District Deputy Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Texas.

At the June 1, 1979 organizational meeting, it was also decided that the ladies of the petitioners should be encouraged to form a Caldron of the Daughters of Mokanna. That goal was realized in February, 1980, with the formal institution of Omala Caldron No. 99, Daughters of Mokanna. Both the Grotto and the Daughters of Mokanna continue to meet on the same night and in the Shrine Temple. Much of the success of Omala Grotto must be attributed to the Omala Caldron.

As Omala Grotto continues to grow, the emphasis continues to be on quality and not quantity and the selection of the Masonic leadership of San Antonio as petitioners for the Grotto, the practice of good fellowship by stressing the intimacy of friendship in the Grotto, and the holding of distinguished and elegant social activities.



GRAND MASTER JACK BALL MADE PROPHET ON SIGHT
From the Omala Grotto "Record", February 1954

Past Monarch Struwe, Chief Justice Jay Johnson, Dr. Carr and your Monarch took a journey to Houston to meet our Grand Monarch on his annual visit over the realm. Prophet Nicklas sent his regrets to the prophets of Omala, that he was unable to visit our city. He is making a hurried trip due to his brother being in serious condition in Pennsylvania.

We attended the Installation ceremonies of Chinar Grotto Saturday evening, This was an open installation and a full house was present at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. The Ladies Of Chinar were installed first, after which Grand Monarch John Nicklas, acting as installing officer, duly installed the officers of Chinar. The installation completed, we were entertained by some of the acts from the Teen-age Review.

The Ladies Of Chinar served refreshment in the banquet room.

Sunday morning your officers attended a breakfast, as guests of Chinar Grotto, to hear the Grand Monarch's message. The meeting was also attended by Past Grand Monarch Carlyle Brock (Ed: Carlyle Brock is the only person to have served both as Grand Monarch of the Grotto AND as the Imperial Potentate of the Shrine) who was entertained by us last year. The Grand Monarch gave a brief outline on what he expected this year and the rest of the morning was spent with questions and answers. The meeting adjourned about noon.


PGM Jack Ball

At the meeting with the Grand Monarch at Houston it was decided to make Grand Master of the Grand Lodge Of Texas, Brother Jack Ball, a Prophet on sight. Grand Monarch John Nicklas deputized Past Grand Monarch Carlyle Brock to act on his absence to confer the honors on Grand Master Ball. Past Grand Monarch Brock arrived in San Antonio Tuesday morning and was taken to the office of Brother Ball, where the Grand Honors were bestowed, in the presence of Prophets Struwe, Johnson, and Nichols. We are proud to welcome Brother Ball into our Realm and look forward to seeing him at our meetings.

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