A Priory is born in New England
The dream began with the realization that over forty active and inactive Templar members living in the six New England states were members of GPUSA priories located in New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and elsewhere, but had no “home” of their own. Grand Prior XV, MG (Ret) Chev. Robert C. G. Disney, GCTJ, GMTJ, saw the need to survey the Templar members living in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island to determine their interest in having its own entity in New England. Telephone calls were made to as many of these resident Templar members as possible. The favorable response was overwhelming, with over ninety percent agreeing with the idea of establishing such an entity.
It became apparent that an organizing committee was needed, along with scheduling a time and place for the fi rst meeting. Grand Prior Disney issued an appointment order which directed Chev. Marston Watson, KCTJ, Grand Editeur and a native of Cambridge, Mass., to be the provisional commander and to establish a commandery in New England. Chev. Watson set the first meeting date at The Union Club of Boston for Saturday, October 23, 2007. He was joined by Chev. R. Bruce Donald, KTJ, CAPT Chev. David J. Gray, KCTJ, REV Chev. Leonard Hindsley, KTJ, Chev. Henry N. McCarl, Ph.D., KCTJ, COL Chev. Thomas P. Moran, GOTJ, BG Chev. Anthony R. Pasqua, KTJ, Chev. Clement L. Voyer, Jr., KTJ and prospective postulant, Mr. John R. Sherman, Esq. GPUSA Chief-of-Staff, CAPT Chev. Keith Larson. GCTJ, flew in from Virginia to represent Grand Prior Disney.
Chev. Larson provided the much-needed expertise to assist the formation team in its goal. He provided the group with information from the Manual of the Order, a petition for Commandery Elevation and a copy of The Brussels Declaration. It was clear to the formation committee that his invaluable assistance was needed to make the dream come true. A name needed to be selected for the commandery, along with the appointment of provisional officers. The officers appointed were Chevaliers Bruce Donald (Chancellor), Clem Voyer (Secretary), David Gray (Treasurer) and Rev. Leonard Hindsley as Chaplain.
The second gathering of the New England Commandery Formation Team became the first board meeting of the provisional commandery. Provisional Commander Marston Watson opened the meeting in the Saltonstall Room of The Harvard Club of Boston on Saturday, February 18, 2008. COL Chev. Wayne McGrath, GCTJ, GMTJ, Grand Chancellor and Chev. William “Liam” Murphy, CMTJ, Priory of St. Patrick Secretary attended the meeting in support of the provisional commandery. The three additional Templar members from New England who were present included Chvse. Susan K. Barnett, DTJ, Chev. David A. Hockensmith, KTJ and Chvse. Stephanie D. Hockensmith, DTJ.
The unanimous choice for a name was the Commandery of St David of Wales in New England. Chev. Watson informed the board of the generous support of the Priory of St Patrick, especially by Prior Chev. Fergal Foley, GOTJ, and Chev. Thomas Burns, KCTJ, the Priory Chancellor with telephone contacts and email messages. The date of the first-ever Convent and Investiture in New England was set for Saturday, April 5, 2008 at Boston’s historic King’s Chapel (founded in 1686), with a reception and banquet at The Union Club of Boston.
Suffice it to say that numerous contacts were made to Templar members in New England and the Priory of St Patrick, along with the invaluable assistance of Chev. Larson. No amount of praise would adequately describe the beautiful and professional investiture by the Priory of St Patrick team for the first seven postulants in the newly-formed Commandery of St David of Wales. It was the hard work and successful results that persuaded Grand Prior Disney to elevate the Commandery of St David of Wales to priory status during the Investiture ceremony. Chev. Watson, who was promoted to GOTJ, was elected as the first Prior of the Priory of St David of Wales in New England.
The Yankees of New England are not content to sit on their laurels or become complacent. The Priory has held numerous Convent and Investitures and welcomed many members. Additionally, the Preceptory of St. Finnian of Clonard was established in January, 2014.