News & Events

News & Events

New Chapel Planned for Minnesota Masonic Home

Minnesota Masonic Home (MMH) fast approaches its 100th year as a pioneering care provider for aging adults, and in one place, the Home’s age is showing. That’s why MMH today announced that it will be removing its 60-year-old Order of the Eastern Star Chapel and replacing it with one that will serve well for (at least) the next 60 years.

The current chapel at MMH opened its doors in 1958 and has hosted many non-denominational services for the Home’s residents, as well as weddings and memorials. Recently, structural deterioration prompted a thorough site review to determine the efficacy of repairing the building, or the need for constructing a new one. After consulting with contractors, the Minnesota Masonic Home Board of Directors made the recommendation to move forward with a new, more efficient chapel.

“Our chapel is so essential to our continuum of care,” said Beth Schroeder, administrator for MMH. “It’s appropriate that it sits in the middle of our campus, because it serves as the spiritual center of our community here. The new chapel is so inspirational. It will be a wonderful addition.

The existing OES Chapel is 2,600 square feet and consists of a small entryway and oratory. The new, 6,000 SF chapel design, by Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc., will add amenities such as an outdoor English garden and courtyard, added parking, a preparatory room and restrooms. The old chapel’s stained glass windows will be incorporated into the new design.

“The old chapel has served us well,” said Eric J. Neetenbeek, president and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities, which administers the Home, “but its structural problem could not be adequately resolved. We realized we had an opportunity to revitalize this area of our campus as part of our ongoing investment in our flagship organization, Minnesota Masonic Home.”

Demolition of the existing chapel is scheduled to begin May 2019, with construction of the new chapel to being thereafter. The general contractor, Adolfson & Peterson, reports a scheduled completion date of December 2019, when the new OES Chapel will be dedicated in traditional Masonic form.

Masonic Chair Goes to Turesky

Robert Turesky, Ph.D., Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota, has been appointed as the Masonic Chair in Cancer Causation. The appointment was made possible through Minnesota Masonic Charities’ accelerated pledge payment made to the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota of $25 million, which will advance important research programs now underway.

Turesky’s research focuses on what happens in the body when people ingest chemicals that are formed from grilled and fried meats, or when meat is cooked over an open flame. Turesky’s research has shown that higher temperatures and longer cooking times lead to higher levels of chemicals that can, upon ingestion, react with enzymes in our bodies to become “reactive intermediates” that can damage DNA.

Dr. Turesky is the Director of the Analytical Biochemistry shared resource at the Masonic Cancer Center. He has also served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and as Division Director of Chemistry at the National Center for Toxicological Research of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I am thrilled to receive this appointment,” said Turesky. “Minnesota Masonic Charities has been an important source of support to my research program, for which I am most grateful.”

Long-time MMH Employee Receives Service Award

Lorys “Johnnie” Penrod Recognized for 47 Years of Exemplary Service

These days, it is hard to find a nursing home employee as dedicated as Lorys “Johnnie” Penrod. Having served in several positions during her 47-year tenure at Minnesota Masonic Home, Johnnie exemplifies dedication in the truest sense of the word.

Escorted by her son, Johnnie accepts the Care Providers of Minnesota award.

On November 12 at their annual conference, Care Providers of Minnesota named Johnnie the recipient of their Dedicated Service Award, which recognizes a provider employee whose service “over the course of his/her career has positively enhanced the quality of life for individuals in a care setting.” According to her colleagues at Minnesota Masonic Home, that describes Johnnie perfectly.

“She is an inspiration,” said Beth Schroeder, administrator of Minnesota Masonic Home. “When I ask her when she plans to retire, she tells me she needs to work three more years to make it to her 50-year employment anniversary.”

Schroeder and many other MMH staff sang Johnnie’s praises in letters to Care Providers as part of her award nomination. Their words reflect Johnnie’s consistent commitment to quality care in an industry that has seen its share of changes.

She began her storied career in early 1971, serving as the day nurse aide for three buildings on the Masonic Home campus (each shift only provided for one aide). Because there were so many demands on her time, Johnnie was instrumental in streamlining many processes at MMH; in one case, devising a magnetic tag system for the doors of the Board & Care wing that identified the care needs of each resident in case of an emergency.

“Any of us who has ever put a parent into a nursing home hopes that someone who is as compassionate as Johnnie was there when we could not be,” said then-Governor Jesse Ventura when he presented Johnnie with the Minnesota Health and Housing Alliance “1999 Caregiver of the Year” award. Ventura later presented Johnnie with the “Governor’s Award for a Better Minnesota,” adding, “Every caring word spent in these years of service has made Minnesota a better place.”

Johnnie remains a fixture at Minnesota Masonic Home, a place where she intends to work because, she says, “I believe in what we do, and I believe in the great people who work here.”

An inspiration indeed.

MMC Scholarship Season Begins Dec. 1!

Beginning December 1, 2018, Minnesota Masonic Charities scholarships applications will be available to complete online! There are a number of scholarship opportunities available, including scholarships for Minnesota high school seniors, Minnesota residents who are currently undergraduates at a 4-year college, and students entering a community college or a vocational/technical school. The deadline for all applications is February 15, 2019. Go to our Scholarships Page.


Held at the beautiful Masonic Heritage Center on September 22, 2018, the 14th Annual Minnesota Masonic Charities Gala brought together supporters and partners of MMC for an evening of fellowship and entertainment. The evening culminated with a performance by Masonic Scholars and brothers, Brock and Brayden Drevlow, performing as their acclaimed touring group, “L’Ambrizioso,” translated to the “Ambitious Duo.” For more images, visit our Facebook page!

Masonic Mission Award Winner Announced

Alejandra Castellanos, nursing assistant at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, was recently named a Masonic Mission Award recipient based on a nomination from a patient family. Presenting the award at the Masonic Children’s Hospital was MMC Board of Directors Chairman, Roger McNear. Congratulations, Alejandra!

Scottish Rite Clinic Names New Director

Duluth, Minn. – The president and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities (MMC), Eric Neetenbeek,  announced today that Nicole Lampi will take over the role of director of the Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders in Duluth. MMC acquired the Clinic last January.

A licensed speech-language pathologist, Lampi comes to the Clinic after serving as manager of pediatric rehabilitation for Essentia Health-Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation. She holds a Master of Arts degree in communication sciences and disorders and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree, both from University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“Niki is a highly qualified professional with a real passion for treating children with communication disorders,” said Neetenbeek. “She is a great addition to our clinic and will be instrumental in continuing the high quality of services the clinic has provided for almost three decades.”

Lampi replaces Carol Roberts, who led the efforts of the clinic for 27 years and will retire in June.  The Scottish Rite Clinic has helped countless families unlock the world of communication for their children since 1990. Reasons for language delays are varied, ranging from hearing impairment and cognitive delays to motor disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorder. The clinic does not charge for services, easing the burden on families and caregivers so that their focus can be on helping their child’s development. The integration to a Minnesota Masonic charity secures the clinic’s ability to provide critical interventions and remediation in perpetuity with the goal of expanding operations.

MMC Accelerates Race to End Cancer

On April 10, 2018, Minnesota Masonic Charities (MMC) announced an acceleration of their 2008 pledge of $65 million to the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. The $25 million accelerated payment marks the 10-year anniversary of the original pledge, and comes at a critical time in cancer research.

The $25 million infusion of funding will have a great impact on advancing “precision medicine” at the cancer center, helping its 500+ members pursue research into an individual’s risk of cancer, develop targeted therapies for cancer treatment, create new tools to study cancer, and recruit the best minds in science to get the job done.

“We believe that the end of this disease is within our sights,” said Eric J. Neetenbeek, president and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities. “Using all the information and tools at their disposal, the Masonic Cancer Center will have the ability to advance cancer prevention and treatment at an individual level until cancer finally will cease to exist.”

A long-time partner of the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Masonic Charities has pledged $125 million to cancer care, research and children’s health there since 1955, making MMC the University’s single largest donor.