Shriners International is, at its most basic level, a fraternity.
It all started in Manhattan in 1870 when some members of what’s considered the world’s oldest fraternity – Masonry – were hanging out at their favorite tavern. They felt that Masonry, which traces its roots to stonemasons and craftsmen of the Middle Ages, was a tad too focused on ritual. These guys wanted a fraternity that stressed fun and fellowship.
Two of those gentlemen – Walter M Fleming, M.D., and Billy Florence, an actor – took that idea and ran with it. Florence came up with the idea for a Near Eastern-themed party after attending a party thrown by an Arabian diplomat. Fleming added the structure, drafting the fraternity’s name, initiation rites, rituals and rules. Together, Fleming and Florence designed the fraternity’s emblem, devised a salutation and determined that the red fez with the black tassel would be the group’s official headgear.
The first chapter, Mecca Shriners, met in New York City in 1872. As word got out about the fledgling organization, membership grew rapidly, spreading across the U.S. In the early 1900s, membership spread into Canada, Mexico and Panama. Today there are approximately 309,000 Shriners belonging to 195 chapters in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the Republic of Panama.
Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, truth and relief.
Throughout history both the Freemasons and Shriners have had a reputation for secrecy, but our mission is straightforward. Shriners are committed to:
Being the premier fraternal organization for men of good character.
Providing attractive, quality programs and services for its members, their families and their friends in a spirit of fun, fellowship and social camaraderie.
Fostering self-improvement through leadership, education, the perpetuation of moral values and community involvement.
Serving mankind through the resources of its philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children®.
About Shriners Hospitals for Children®
Shriners Hospitals for Children® is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. The 22 hospitals focus on four specialized areas of care:
Orthopaedic Care – medical and rehabilitative services for children with congenital deformities and conditions, problems resulting from orthopaedic injuries, and diseases of the neuromusculoskeletal system.
Burn Care – treatment for acute and non-acute burn injuries and related scarring, along with physical rehabilitation and emotional support.
Spinal Cord Injury – spinal cord injury rehabilitation specifically for children, offering some of the most advanced treatment in the country, with full range of services.
Cleft Lip and Palate Care – coordinated, comprehensive multidisciplinary care for children with this condition.
Learn more about Shriners Hospitals for Children by visiting www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.
How To Become
If you hold the title of Master Mason in Freemasonry, you qualify and are invited to join the Shriners.
In order to become a Shriner you must ask a current Shriner to support and sponsor your application. This site makes that process easier by pairing you with a virtual mentor who can answer all of your questions, guide you through the petition process and help you get to know members of your local temple.
If you are not a Freemason, you must pursue that first. Ask for a virtual mentor on this site who will assist you on that journey. Also see the Roadmap section and click on Freemason for details on that process. Once you are a Master Mason you will then be eligible to petition to become a Shriner. See Roadmap section and click on Shriner for details. Your virtual mentor will assist you with every step along the way.
There are many benefits to becoming a Shriner.