WHO ARE THE SHRINERS AND WHAT IS THE SHRINE?
From the Masonic Information Center
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Shiners, or Shrine Masons, belong to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America (A.A.O.N.M.S.). The Shrine is an international fraternity of approximately 775,000 members who belong to Shrine Temples throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Founded in New York City in 1872, the organization is composed solely of 32nd degree Scottish Rite Masons or Knights Templar York Rite Masons.
The Shrine is best-known for its colorful parades, its distinctive red fez, and its official philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children, which is often called "the heart and soul of the Shrine."
Why Do Shriners Wear A Fez?
The red fez with a black tassel, the Shrine's most distinctive symbol, has been handed down through the ages. It derives its name from the place where it was first manufactured - the holy city of Fez, Morocco. The fez was chosen as part of the Shrine's Arabic (Near East) theme, around which the color and pageantry of the Shrine an developed.
What Are Shrine Hospitals and How Did They Come Into Being?
Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children is a network of 19 orthopedic hospitals and three burns institutes, maintained and operated by the Shrine, where children under the age of 18 receive excellent medical care absolutely free of charge. Shriners Hospitals are located throughout North America, with 20 hospitals in the United States and one each in Mexico and Canada.
The Shrine supported various charities almost from its inception. In 1920, however, the organization voted to adopt its own official philanthropy, dedicated to providing free orthopedic medical care to children in need, and the first Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children was built in Shreveport, La., in 1922. The Shrine's philanthropy eventually expanded to 22 "Centres of Excellence," including its three Shriners Burns Institutes.
There is never a charge to the patient, parent or any third party for any service or medical treatment received at the hospitals, and no state, local or federal funding of any kind is sought or accepted by Shriners Hospitals.
Every patient at Shriners Hospitals is sponsored by a Shriner, who acts as a liaison between the family and the hospital. Shrine Temples and clubs often help arrange and pay for transportation for children and parents to the hospitals, and thousands of Shriners spend many hours of their own time driving families to the hospitals and entertaining the patients. In addition, the Shrine helps support the hospitals financially: Each Shriner pays an annual $5 hospital assessment, and Temples and clubs hold many fundraisers, some of which benefit Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children.
How Are Shriners Hospitals Funded?
Since 1922, when the first Shriners Hospital was built, more than $1.9 billion has been spent building and opening Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children. In 1990 alone, the operating budget for the hospitals is approximately $226.5 million, including $18.5 million allocated for research, and the construction budget is about $53.5 million, for a total of $280 million.
Where does the money come from?
Shriners Hospitals are supported primarily by income from the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children endowment fund, which is maintained through donations and bequests from both Shriners and non-Shriners. Additional income represents each Shriner's annual hospital assessment and fundraising events sponsored by Shrine Temples, Clubs and Units.
What Is Family-Centered Care?
Recognizing that the family plays a vital role in a child's ability to overcome an illness or injury, Shriners Hospitals developed their family-centred care concept, to help the family provide the support and involvement the child requires. This concept stresses that while medicine might heal the child's body, tending to the child's mind and spirit is equally important to his recovery.
Family-centred care involves the family in all aspects of the child's care and recovery. The parents are taught how to care for the child at home. Where possible, room is provided for at least one parent to remain with the child throughout the hospital stay, and brothers and sisters are encouraged to visit the child. Specially trained personnel help the family accept the child's illness or injury, deal with the feelings of guilt and frustration that often arise in such situations, and counsel the family concerning the special needs of the child and other members of the family.
The purpose of all Shriners Hospitals is to provide care to crippled and burned children in order to help them lead fuller, more productive lives. By promoting the importance of the family and helping it become a stronger support system for the child, Shriners Hospitals can accomplish their purpose more effectively.
Why Is Research So Important In Shriners Hospitals?
Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children have been involved in research since the 1920s, but in the early 1960s the Shrine aggressively entered the structured research field and began earmarking funds for research projects.
Since that time, Shriners Hospitals have been at the vanguard of research, achieving significant progress in orthopedic and burn treatment. In 1990 alone, $18.5 million has been allocated for structured research efforts.
One of the better-known achievements of Shriners Hospitals research is the cultured skin developed by the Boston Burns Institute in connection with the Harvard Medical School. Researchers developed a method of "growing" skin from a tiny sample of a burn patient's own skin. In a celebrated 1983 case, this breakthrough enabled the Burns Institute to save the lives of two boys who were burned over 97 percent of their body surface, marking the first time a cultured organ had ever been used in a life-saving situation, as well as the first time any human being was known to survive such a severe injury.
The Shrine believes that the hope for crippled and burned children in the future lies in research today. Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children work to make that hope a reality.
What Types Of Cases Are Treated At Shriners Hospitals?
Some of the most common orthopedic problems treated at Shriners Hospitals are:
- Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
- Osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease)
- Hand problems
- Back problems
- Limb deficiencies and growth problems
- Orthopaedic problems of spina bifida with myelodysplasia (paralysis of limbs due to faulty congenital development of the spine and spinal nerves)
- Orthopaedic problems resulting from neuromuscular disorders
- Legg-Perthes disease (development problems of the hip)
- Orthopaedic problems of cerebral palsy
What Is Masonry And What Is Its Connection To The Shrine?
In order to become a Shriner, a man must first be a Mason. The fraternity of Freemasonry is the oldest, largest and most widely known fraternity in the world. It dates back hundreds of years to when stonemasons and other craftsmen on building projects gathered in shelter houses or lodges.
Over the years, formal Masonic lodges emerged, with members bound together not by trade, but by their own desire to be fraternal brothers.
The basic unit of Masonry is the Blue Lodge, where members earn the first three Masonic degrees. There is no higher degree than that of Master Mason (the Third Degree), but for those men who wish to further explore the allegory and symbolism learned in the Blue Lodge, the Scottish Rite and York Rite elaborate on the basic tenets of Freemasonry.
What Are The Steps To Becoming A Shrine Mason?
Every Shriner is first a Mason; however, Masonry does not solicit members. No one is asked to join. A man must seek admission of his own free will. A man is a fully accepted "Blue Lodge" Mason after he has received three degrees, known as Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.
After that, he can belong to many other organizations which have their roots in Masonry and which have Blue Lodge Masonry as a prerequisite.
Only when a Master Mason has achieved the 32nd degree Scottish Rite or Knights Templar degree in York Rite can he petition to become a Noble of the Mystic Shrine.
Where Did The Shrine's Near-Eastern Theme Come From?
The Shrine is as American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. It was tied to an Arabic theme by its founders, Billy Florence, an actor, and William Fleming, a physician. Fleming and Florence realized the fledgling fraternity needed a colorful, exciting backdrop. It is believed that Florence conceived of the Shrine's Near Eastern setting while on tour in Europe.
As the legend goes, Florence attended a party in Marseilles, France, hosted by an Arabian diplomat. At the end of the party, the guests became members of a secret society. Florence realized this might be the ideal vehicle for the new fraternity, and he made copious notes and drawings of the ceremony.
When Florence returned to the States, Fleming agreed, and together they created elaborate rituals, designed the emblem and costumes, and formulated the salutation.
Though the Shrine is not itself a secret society, it still retains much of the mysticism and secrecy of its origins.
Who Is Eligible For Admission To A Shriners Hospital?
Shriners Hospitals accept and treat any child up to their 18th birthday if, in the opinion of the hospital's chief of staff, the child can be helped, and if treatment at another facility would place a financial burden on the family.
Shriners Hospitals are open to all children without regard to race, religion or relationship to a Shriner. There is never a charge to the patient, parent or any third party for any service or medical treatment received at Shriners Hospitals.
How Are Admissions Handled For The Shriners Burns Institutes?
The sooner a burned child reaches a Shriners Burns Institute, the better his chances of recovery. In an emergency, the referring physician should telephone the chief of staff at the nearest Shriners Burns Institute and indicate the patient needs emergency care. Non-emergency admissions for reconstructive or plastic surgery should be arranged through the administrator of the nearest Shriners Burns Institute.
The Shriners Burns Institutes are located in Boston, Mass.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Galveston, Texas.
Where Can Parents Get More Information About Shriners Hospitals?
General admission information for Shriners Hospitals can be obtained by calling one of the toll-free information numbers:
United States: 1-800-237-5055