Priory of the Light

The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem ®


It all started with a challenge! With the growth of GPUSA developing in the Western United States, Chev. T. Cole Williams, GCTJ, CMTJ was given a challenge by GPUSA as Prior of the Priory of Our Savior in Pasadena, California. He took the challenge to heart: Grow the West.

Prior Williams gave a newly invested knight the same challenge in November 2000: “Form the first priory in Arizona!” It became the ambitious goal of Chev. John L. Black, DC, PhD, GCTJ, who eventually became the first Prior of Arizona’s Priory of The Light.

We learned how to perform our respective roles in time by observing and listening. Our new Knights and Dames made great friendships with our sister Priory, by attending the C&Is of the Priory of Our Savior for several years. The Commandery of The Light was recognized on May 13, 2002, along with its first slate of officers. Dr. Chev. John Black was installed as Commander and the Hon. Chev. John Keegan, Esq., KCTJ as Chancellor, in addition to other commandery officers. Grand Prior XIII, BG Chev. Patrick E. Rea, GCTJ, GMTJ officiated at the ceremony.

Membership growth was slow but steady. Commander Black had a passion for history and was well read in the history of the Knights Templar. He loved to share this information, which ignited interest in the many people he met. You see, he was following orders to assist Prior Williams in “growing the West.” The idea was to have membership “planted” in the various Western states and in turn, to have that individual increase the growth of membership in their area, in order to form another Commandery/Priory.

The regalia of the future priory was researched and gathered during the growth period of the Commandery of The Light. We obtained our regalia through the personal efforts of the Commander. He saw to its continued accumulation using the skills of other knights, in order that we would be fully equipped and ready to conduct our own Convent and Investiture.

The Commandery of the Light reached the required number of new knights and dames to be stood up as the Priory of The Light at its C&I on May 7, 2005. Grand Prior XIV, COL Chev. David N. Appleby, GCTJ, GMTJ presided at the ceremony and installed our first Priory officers. Dr. Chev. Dr. John Black was installed as the first Prior and Chev. David Botsko, PhD, KCTJ as Chancellor. The growth of our membership had reached beyond the Phoenix area into Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada and Oregon by this time.

Having “Knights Templar” in Arizona was a new adventure and an untried concept. One of the first challenges was to find a church that would allow us to conduct our C&Is. Church after church in the Phoenix area was contacted and discussions about the Order’s mission were held with church officials. Nevertheless, they still were dubious of our credibility. The Order was still quite new in the Western United States and Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code raised questions about who we were.

Finally, a facility was found at the Lutheran Retreat in the quaint town of Carefree, Arizona. The facility was beautifully located in the historic Black Mountains, which provided room accommodations on the property for members and visiting guests. Our reception and banquet were held on the site as well.

The first Priory C&I took place on March 10, 2007 with Grand Prior XV, MG Chev. Robert Disney, GCTJ, GMTJ officiating. Dame Sheila Disney accompanied the Grand Prior and made everyone feel at ease with her caring nature. New Knights and Dames were invested and deserving members were recognized through promotions and awards. Chev. David Botsko, PhD, KCTJ was installed as Prior II and Chvse. Carol Black, DGOTJ as Chancellor. The lovely evening culminated with Grand Prior Disney’s inspiring and motivating address to the Priory members.

The Priory’s convent and investitures have taken place at the beautiful twenty-five acre Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, from 2008 to the present. Dame Carol Black became interim Prior in March 2008 with the resignation of Prior Botsko. She was officially recognized as Prior by Grand Prior Robert Disney on June 6, 2008 during the Grand C&I “at sea.”

Grand Prior XVII, COL Chev. Wayne McGrath, GCTJ, GMTJ officiated at the Priory’s C&I on May 2, 2009. He installed Dame Carol Black as Prior III and Dr. Chev. Gus Kaubisch Jr., KCTJ as Chancellor.

The Priory of the Light celebrated its fifth anniversary on May 1, 2010 with Grand Chancellor, CAPT Chev. Keith H. Larson, GCTJ, GMTJ presiding. The Priory’s C&I on September 24, 2011 saw a change of command when Grand Inspector, COL Chev. Buren Shields III, GCTJ, GMTJ installed Chev. William Currie, KCTJ as Prior IV and Chev. Kurtis Orcutt, KCTJ as Chancellor.

Our charities have included the Make A Wish Foundation, Packages From Home, Semper Fi/Wounded Warrior and Ryan House. Our major fundraiser on June 4, 2011 was the 100K Riley’s Run, which was created and completed by Chev. John F. Riley, KCTJ. Thirteen Priory members, friends and family took a memorable ten-day tour of Scotland in September 2010, which was led by Chev. Riley.

Our journey has not been without its share of bumps in the road and some of them have even created detours! Through it all, we have endured and focused upon continued growth, our Priory programs, our charities and fundraisers. With clear vision of the “Light,” being the Christ, we move forward in our quest.

Priors of the Priory of the Light
Commander Dr. Chev. John Lee Black, DC, PhD, GCTJ (2002-2005)
Prior I Dr. Chev. John Lee Black, DC, PhD, GCTJ (2005-2007)
Prior II Chev. David Botsko, PhD, KCTJ (2007-2008)
Prior III Chvse. Carol Roberta Black, GOTJ (2008-2011)
Prior IV Chev. William Ernest Currie, KCTJ (2011-2013)
Prior V Chev. Kurt Orcutt, GOTJ (2013-2015)
Prior VI Chev. Joseph F. Zito, GOTJ (2015-2017)
Prior VII Thomas P. Hillmer, GOTJ (2017-2019)




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