About the York Rite Sovereign College

San Diego Area York Rite College

The York Rite Sovereign College of North America exists primarily to be of service to the York Rite of Freemasonry. Constituent colleges must declare fealty to the Grand Lodge of their respective jurisdictions. The pre-requisite for membership, which is by invitation only, is good standing in all four York Rite bodies: Lodge, Chapter, Council, and Commandery or Preceptory (Canada.)

The reference for the following information is a pamphlet published by the York Rite Sovereign College of North America.

“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
and whoever would be first among you must be your slave:
even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.”


Origin of the College

The York Rite Sovereign College of North America came into being in the City of Detroit, Michigan, on January 6, 1957. It was the result of a meeting called by Richard W. Lewis, Past Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Michigan, and attended by the heads of the four Michigan York Rite grand Bodies and a number of distinguished Masonic leaders from other States. These founders, responding to a need that had long been recognized in the York Rite, outlined the structure and purpose of the new organization and arranged for its incorporation.


The purpose of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, as set forth in its Constitution and By-Laws, are as follows:

  • To foster a spirit of cooperation and coordination among each of the Bodies of York Rite Masonry.
  • To assist in worthy efforts to improve the ritualistic and dramatic presentation of York Rite work.
  • To conduct an education program in order to inculcate a greater appreciation of the principles, ideals, and programs of York Rite Masonry.
  • To strengthen York Rite Masonry in every possible manner.
  • To build up a love of country and to aid and support genuine Americanism.
  • To reward outstanding service to York Rite Masonry by awards, honors, and other methods of proper recognition.
  • To support Charitable and Benevolent Endeavors of Freemasonry.

York Rite Colleges

The first York Rite College was constituted on June 15, 1957, in the City of Jackson, Michigan. From here, the new organization spread rapidly from coast to coast and from north to south, and by 1970 Colleges had been established in fourteen States and one Province of Canada. According to the Fall 1996 edition of the York Rite Crusader, the number of Charters has reached number 176.

Membership in a College is by invitation and is restricted to those who hold membership in all of the other York Rite bodies. Since the primary object of every College is to foster a spirit of service and to promote and support the York Rite in every way possible, it is no surprise to find many of the leaders of the Craft numbered among its ranks. Here they find common ground from which they can act for the welfare of all York Rite bodies without special favor to any. Colleges have been active in the organization of York Rite Festivals, degree teams, drill corps, and many other functions, which serve to assist, coordinate, and unify the Rite.

Awards of the Sovereign College

The York Rite Sovereign College of North America is the supreme governing body for all Colleges within its jurisdiction. As such, it endeavors to promote all those activities that favor the accomplishing of its stated purpose. Among these is the awarding of certain honors for outstanding service.

The Gold Honor Award may be given to any Mason for unselfish and faithful service in any branch of the York Rite. The recipient need not be a member of a College, nor is it required that he be a member of all the other York Rite bodies.

The Order of the Purple Cross (OPC)

The Order of the Purple Cross of York, the highest honor of the College, is conferred upon those members of the College who have distinguished themselves by their service to humanity or to the Rite. The recipients are designated Associate Regents of the Sovereign College and, from their ranks, are chosen the Regents or active members of that body.

The Sovereign College meets in General Assembly once each year, generally in late July or early August.

For further information, please CONTACT the San Diego York Rite College.

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