W Bro Richard Cavanagh investigates
St Catherine’s Lodge No 3743, the Lodge associated with the Worshipful Company of Turners, saw the Installation of Bro John Khan on 12 October 2021 at Innholders Hall in the City in front of over 50 members and guests, the largest attendance since the Lodge’s Centenary in 2015.
Also present was W Bro Sanjiv Gohil AGDC, MetGInsp.
It was the first meeting after the lifting of Covid restrictions. Still, it would have been otherwise unremarkable, except for the unusual coincidence that three Khan brothers are now all installed as Worshipful Masters of their respective Lodges. W Bro Michael, who is the eldest sibling, is the Master of Athene Lodge No 5349 in the Province of Surrey (as well as being a member of Sit Perpetuum Lodge No 5725, Surrey, and the Bisley Rifle Association Lodge). W Bro Josef, the youngest, holds the same office in Borough Lodge No 2589. Both came to support their brother John on his installation. So genial has St Catherine’s proved that Bro Josef became a joining member and was invested as junior warden by his brother (and Brother).
Born in Mumbai, they and their families all now live in Surrey. All are professionals in software and systems development and cyber-security. They have developed their Masonic knowledge through the Royal Arch and the Mark Degrees. However, somewhat ironically, they were not aware of each other’s interests in freemasonry until brought together by Bro Fred Bain PAGDC, a member of St Catherine’s.
Josef was the first to become a Freemason after watching a documentary about freemasonry in 2012: ‘That intrigued me, and I got curious to learn more about it [such as] what is Freemasonry [and] what people do when they become Freemasons? Then in early 2013, I registered my interest to become a freemason through the UGLE website.’ Josef subsequently joined Borough Lodge in March 2014 as an unsponsored candidate. Unbeknown to Josef, Michael joined the Athene Lodge in September 2014 after being approached by a work colleague, W Bro Andy Gray. ‘We have an office in Croydon, and its general manager at the time, W Bro Andy Gray, approached me to join the Athene Lodge. This was also the time when I had met W Bro Fred Bain, through Coleman Street Ward Club in the City [and] Fred asked me to join the St. Catherine’s Lodge. I have kept both of my promises. It has been a remarkable and splendid journey.’ Michael then introduced his brother John to Athene Lodge.
With W Bro Fred’s assistance, all three Brothers joined St. Catherine’s Lodge, though not before a surprise revelation from Josef beforehand. ‘During all this time, I didn’t disclose to any of my brothers that I had become a Freemason. And it was around the same time we met Fred Bain at a City function, and he offered me to join St Catherine’s. It was too early for me to know the difference between joining as an initiate or as a member, and when Fred asked me, I said yes, I would join. But when I learned the difference, I just didn’t know how to tell Fred I couldn’t join as an initiate because my brothers didn’t know I was already a mason, and I didn’t know how to tell them!’
It was during a holiday to Prague in 2015 that Josef revealed he already was a freemason. ‘One evening, while we were having dinner, I took that as an opportunity and told them about my secret of being a freemason. They were gobsmacked and started asking me how, when, where; [it] almost felt like another interview. By the time dinner ended, they had trusted me that I was indeed a mason. After this, we agreed to let Fred know everything, but I thought I couldn’t tell anyone of being a freemason, that it had to be kept secret!! When members at St Catherine’s heard this story, it made everyone laugh, and they accepted me as a joining member in 2016.’
Despite not originally knowing each other’s interest in freemasonry, it is clear that their shared experience of the Craft means a lot to all three brothers. ‘Honestly, it means [the] world to me,’ said Josef. ‘Once we all became freemasons from the early stages, we started to aid and encourage each other. Now when I visit different Lodges, I see that many brethren have 1 or 2 friends they are very close with and attend meetings or visit Lodges together and make their masonic memories together. I feel lucky and privileged to get to do that with my siblings.’ This is echoed by John, who agrees ‘having my brothers involved makes it more fun and enjoyable. It has been very pleasurable to see each other progressing and now in the chair.’ ‘It means a lot,’ adds Michael. ‘We all have found a purpose to contribute and support freemasonry and particularly to charitable causes, brotherhood, and other social elements. The timings of all of us getting involved have greatly helped us to progress and support each other in our journeys.’
With all three brothers progressing at similar stages in their masonic careers and taking the role of Worshipful Master at the same time, this unique experience has also afforded them the opportunity to support and help each other for their first time in the chair. ‘Indeed, now we all in WM’s chair, we sometimes practice our rituals with each other,’ admits Josef. ‘It does help enormously when you know you have someone you can practice or discuss with on a regular basis and pick up their brain as they are in the same situation as yours.’ John agrees, adding that ’we advise each other and discuss the rituals and working. Sometimes we practice the words with each other when there are no LOIs.’
‘Yes, we do find each other’s company and support tremendously helpful,’ adds Michael. ‘Supporting each other is an essential and important part of the whole experience. We regularly accompany and attend each other’s Lodge meetings, particularly as we all are members in St. Catherine Lodge together; it greatly helps.’
And how do the brothers reflect on John’s installation to become the third Worshipful Master among the siblings? ‘It is a very special year for us as a family and also as masonic brothers,’ recalls John. ‘At my installation, when we all three were wearing the Worshipful Master’s collar and standing together, that feeling cannot be put into words. It was most amazing. When we were told it [had] never happened that three brothers of three different lodges are Worshipful Masters at the same time, [that] was very amusing and satisfying.’ ‘It was a blissful day,’ adds Michael. ‘It [is] quite special and extraordinary to be WMs at the same time, and it’s all thanks to such great support, advice, and organisation of the brethren; we’re very grateful.’ This sentiment is echoed by Josef: ‘It is unusual but at the same time wonderful, not only for us but also for families and friends around us who have supported us all throughout our masonic journey. I personally love it and very much looking forward to the years ahead and hopefully progressing together further into freemasonry.’
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 47 January 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 47 here.