In dark times, Scottish Rite Freemasons are a source of light. To commemorate the well-earned triumphs of 2020 and spread hope and positivity in this new year, we asked staff members of the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction to share their bright spots from the past year.

From quality time with family to a deepened appreciation for our core values and life’s small pleasures, our team found that even in the most difficult times, there is still much to be grateful for.

J.B. McNaughton, 33°

Website Manager, Active for Indiana


What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

For the first time ever we spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas away from our extended families and were able to create some new traditions with our boys. As a result, we had to learn how to cook a turkey and it was amazing! This past year truly forced us to slow down and come together as a family and work together. As difficult as it may have been (and continues to be) at times, these lessons and times together have been priceless.

(Did you know Ill. Brother McNaughton already has blue lodge and Scottish Rite petitions ready for both of his sons? Read his legacy story from this past fall.)

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

Fresh air, blue skies, and the sounds of laughter amongst family & friends.


Cindy Allen-Fuss

Associate Clinical Director, Children’s Dyslexia Center

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

I have only been in my position for a little over a year and despite being stuck at home, I have established great online relationships with the staff and Directors at the Children's Dyslexia Centers. I am so grateful to be a part of their team!

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

I am hopeful that all the Children's Dyslexia Centers will be able to return to in-person tutoring. Although we are making online tutoring work, there is nothing better than seeing and working with the child in person.

Bridget Steele

Manager of Research & Grants, Scottish Rite Charities

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

The pandemic helped bring our neighborhood so much closer together. Reminiscent of another time, the slower pace that kept us all home fostered deeper friendships and made for an unforgettable summer for kids and adults alike.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

I’m hopeful for a return to gathering – filling our home with friends again, singing and worshiping with our congregation on Sunday, visiting family out of town, work events with crowds and intimate groups, handshakes, hugs, and restoring the connection we’ve so missed.

E. "Cappy" Capobianco, 33°

Commander in Chief, Massachusetts Consistory

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

To be a part of a campaign to deliver PPE to our brothers in need, as well as the Masonic Home Health Care Providers. It was touching to be able to provide them the equipment to perform their jobs and remain safe in doing so.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

That everyone will learn from this pandemic and finally realize we are all one people and need to protect and take care of each other.

Thomas Sturgeon, 33°

Grand Chancellor, Fraternal Relations

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

In a year of turmoil and uncertainty, I am grateful for the "birds-eye view" of our Supreme Council soaring the Masonic world in the most progressive manner, creating new and cementing former fraternal relations among all of the Supreme Councils.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

I look forward to continuing to share the Masonic light around the world as well as here in the Northern Jurisdiction. Also, I’m hopeful to always remember the personal gifts of family, friends, and Brothers provided for me by our God!

Jeff Kitsmiller

Director, Information Systems

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

2020 brought the change of me joining a new team as I was hired on at the NMJ. With any new beginning there is always a sense of hesitancy - however, I was greeted immediately with a warm welcome by an undeniably talented team that excels each and every day in serving the fraternity.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

2021 is filled with an abundance of hope - not only for a return to our normal activities - but a continuation of delivering an absolute first class experience for our members through new and innovative ways with the best team in the business.

Mary Ann Bichajian

Manager, Development and Planned Giving, Scottish Rite Charities

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

Thinking that Christmas was canceled, it gave me such joy to be able to sneak in a last minute trip to Vermont to spend Christmas with my two year old twin grandsons.

PJ Roup, 33°

Editor, The Northern Light and Active for Pennsylvania

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

The forced isolation of 2020 gave me the opportunity to reconnect with nature in a more contemplative way. I got back to so many of the outdoor hobbies that I love: fly fishing, trail running, mountain biking, and hiking.

Being alone or in small, safe groups allowed me to appreciate the surroundings and people in a way that I had an experience prior to the pandemic.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

I pray that 2021 brings us back to some sort of normalcy, but with an expanded appreciation for the things and people that matter to us.

Ymelda Laxton

Assistant Curator, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

Our family was fortunate enough to add a new four-legged friend to our family. Her name is Beemo and she is an adorable one year-old beagle mix who adds a bit of joy to our day.

Darien Koons, 32°

Development Coordinator, Scottish Rite Charities

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

The Zoom surge of 2020 brought with it a reminder that distant friends/family aren't as inaccessible as we once thought. My wife and I were able to spend hours on end with friends, family and Masonic brothers located all across the country right from the comfort of our living room.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

I'm looking forward to getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to me - a small step in getting back to "normal".

Matt Blaisdell, 32°

Director of Design

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

Seeing the opportunities the team jumped on to offer the members and supporters of Scottish Rite, NMJ in regards to new ways to share ideas, and bring new ways to 'meet', and new ways to communicate visually. Though the circumstances were less than desirable, it pushed everyone to think beyond and try something new that Freemasonry has never seen before - and we're all the better for it.

Personally, Angela [wife] and I finally made the move from PA to MA to work closer with everyone and explore the world beyond Lancaster, Pennsylvania and start a life with our family of pups!

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

Honestly, shaking someone's hand. As simple as a gesture it is, it's a powerful notion. You don't realize how much you miss those types of interactions.

Alyssa Morein

Curatorial Assistant, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

It's been precious to spend so much time with my kids--they're growing up fast, so I'm trying to look at this past year as a gift.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

I'm looking forward to being able to be with the rest of my family again--indoors, sharing food and everything!

Daniel Wilson, 33°

Active Member of Supreme Council

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

My Brother, Reverend Dr. Scott W. Wilson is the Pastor of Saint Mark's Presbyterian Church in North Bethesda, MD. His church services are broadcasted on Zoom every Sunday and, for the first time in almost 50 years, my 5 brothers, sisters, and several nieces and nephews can all gather and worship together. There is a blessing even in the darkest moments.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

That God will continue to bless the greatest country mankind has ever known... The United States of America.

Marcus Abbott, 32°

Executive Producer and Artistic Director, Scottish Rite Production

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

I realized that even when the world looks challenging or depressing you cannot be unhappy and truly grateful at the same time. I am very grateful for my Lexington family and the positive future that we continue to create.

Peter Samiec, 33°

Grand Almoner, Grand Lieutenant Commander

What's one positive experience you had in 2020?

This has been a tough year for many of our members as the onset of the Coronavirus devastated many lives, both spiritually and financially. The Grand Almoner's Fund came to the rescue numerous times. The many heartfelt messages of thanks were such an uplifting and positive experience!

Secondly, the headquarters staff rose to the challenge of assisting me in my duties and were always right there when I needed them! What a wonderful feeling to have such a dedicated and supportive staff! God bless each and every one of them.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

That the pandemic is eradicated and I'm granted the health and ability to continue in my present role. And may every one of our staff be equally blessed!


Now, it’s your turn! Share your favorite memory or touching moment from the last year on social media with the hashtag #LighttheRite for a chance to be featured on The Northern Light’s Facebook page.

Let’s bring our fraternity together with optimism and brotherly love. We can’t wait to read your story.