Monday, January 2, 2017

Officers of the York Rite College

In the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, the basic unit of organization is the College. The officers of a York Rite College are Governor, Deputy Governor, Chancellor, Primate, Preceptor, Seneschal, Marshal, and Sentinel. The Governor, Deputy Governor, and Chancellor are elected officers while the rest are appointed by the Governor. These officers represent officials present at the assembly called by King Athelstan in 926 AD, this legend comprises the central myth of the order.

The Governor is the presiding officer of a York Rite College. The origin of this word is found with the Latin word "gubernatorem" meaning "director or ruler", but the word originally translated as "steersman or pilot". Both meanings are applicable to a Governor as the governor is someone elected or appointed to rule or direct a particular institution or society. Historically, governors were representatives of monarchs often in colonial areas or over an institution such as a bank or a prison. Today, a governor is often a public official in the executive branch of a sub-national level of government. The power and authority may vary between individual governors, but in all cases, they act as the chief executive officer.

The second-in-command of a College is the Deputy Governor who presides in the absence of the Governor. Deputy comes from the word the Late Latin word "deputare" meaning "to esteem or considers as." In this way, the Deputy Governor is to be considered as the Governor, particularly in the absence of that officer. Deputy Governors are sometimes referred to as Lieutenant Governors and their duties can often vary. In the United States, these Lieutenant Governors are in the line of succession in the state government, serve as the presiding officer of the upper house of the state legislature, and, in some states that do not have a Secretary of State, the Lieutenant Governor fills those duties. In monarchies, deputy governors and lieutenant governors serve as the representative of the monarch and serve as the executive officer of the kingdom in that region.

The Chancellor is the third-in-command and, in essence, is the chief operations officer of the York Rite College. Chancellor stems from the Late Latin word "cancellarius" translating as "keeper of the barrier, secretary, usher of a law court." The duties coincide with this etymological root as they traditionally served as secretary to a monarch or noble. In the French monarchies, the Chancellor was the keeper of the seals or presided over the Parliament. Today you see this title used to describe the president of some universities or the person in charge of financial or economic issues.

The Primate is the senior appointed officer and who is comparable to the Chaplain in the Blue Lodge. Primate comes from the Latin word "primas" meaning "of the first rank, chief, or principal" and is a title used to designate high-ranking bishops in some Christian churches. It is used in several ways, but the most common use of this title is to refer to a Bishop who has authority over many other Bishops in a region, although today, the title of Primate is merely honorific. This authority is often administratively as Bishops are considered first among equals.

The next officer in the College is the Preceptor who can be seen to resemble the Master of Ceremonies, an officer that is used in some Blue Lodges. The word preceptor originates from the Latin word "praeceptor" meaning "teacher or instructor." Whether in its historical use or in the modern sense of the word, a Preceptor is an expert or specialist. Today, it is used to denote a medical or legal specialist. Historically, a Preceptor was in charge or in the chain of command of Christian military orders such as the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, and Teutonic Knights.

Next in line is the Seneschal who has duties that are seen with the Sr. Deacon, Jr. Deacon, and Marshal of the Blue Lodge. The etymology of "Seneschal" comes from the Proto-Germanic words 'sini' meaning senior, and 'skalk' meaning servant. Seneschal literally means 'senior servant'. Historically in France, the seneschal would be sometimes the personal representative of the King charged with dispensing justice and administrative duties. In other kingdoms, seneschals oversaw feasts and domestic ceremonies. They would seem to be close to stewards in this regard. Other duties would include managing the property and finances of the Lord under who they served. Within the Knights Templar, this officer served as the "right-hand man" of the Grand Master and his chief duties surrounded the oversight of much of the administrative operation, acting as an adviser to the Grand Master, and acted as head of the Order in his absence. 

The fourth appointed officer is known as the Marshal and it would be obvious to say that there is a connection between the duties of this officer with that of the officer within the Blue Lodge. The title Marshal has been used by the military, courts, and other parts of society as someone who is charged arranging and directs "ceremonial aspects of a gathering." Marshall comes from the Old French word "mareschal" meaning "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" which is derived from the Frankish-Germanic word "marhskalk" meaning "horse-servant." The medieval Knights Templar denominated their third-in-command as Marshal was in charge of the troops and advised the Grand Master on all things relative to the war effort.

The final appointed officer of the York Rite College is called the Sentinel and whose duties correspond with that of the Tyler in the Blue Lodge. The word Sentinel stems from the Latin word "sentire" meaning "to watch or perceive by the senses." The Sentinel is one who stands guard over some kind of structure, whether it be an installation, a gate, or a passage. It is their job to prevent intrusion by enemies or those unauthorized.


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21. Sentinel. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: 

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