About Theta Phi
Mission of Theta Phi Alpha Is ...
. . . to create close comradeship, to advance educational, social and
philanthropic interests and leadership training; to encourage spiritual
development and adherence to the highest moral standards; and to promote
lifelong bonds of friendship . . .
Creed of Theta Phi Alpha
each fellow man
each deed and plan
sorrow can transcend
God and truth to self
valued over wealth.
This is the
creed that in us lies
of loyal Theta Phis.
rose for its purity
sapphire blue for loyalty
for a needle sure
our course firm and secure
for a precious faith
no end not even death
This is the
creed that in us lies
of loyal Theta Phis
Phi Alpha reveres these ten women as its Founders:
Dorothy Caughey Phalan
Katrina Caughey Ward
Otilia Leuchtweis O'Hara
Camilla Ryan Sutherland
Helen Ryan Quinlan
May C. Ryan
Eva Stroh Bauer Everson
Theta Phi Alpha History from the
Theta Phi Alpha National Website
The founding of Theta Phi Alpha is a story of a group of young friends,
not unlike the members of today. They were faced with a myriad of
challenges and issues on their campus. By joining together, they
provided support and friendship to one another, to meet the challenges
that they faced and to create an organization that would enable future
generations to share that sisterhood. We recognize the contributions of
the sisters who have gone before us and acknowledge that, without them,
our experience today would be very different.
In 1912, a small, local Fraternity of Catholic women at the University
of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, was struggling. The organization had
originally been formed by Father Edward D. Kelly in 1909, when he was
pastor of the student chapel at the University. He believed that there
should be some kind of home life provided for the young Catholic women
who attended the University and he realized that a sorority offered such
society, friendship, and atmosphere. Several women students were
originally very interested in joining, partly because Catholics were not
always welcome in the other Greek-letter sororities on campus. By
founding this new sorority, Catholic women had sorority life opened to
them. Unfortunately, however, by the late spring of 1912 membership in
Omega Upsilon was low and the treasury was unable to support the
activities of the group.
By this time, Father Kelly had become Bishop of Grand Rapids, but he
retained his dream of an organization which, in ritual and in practice,
would help shape the lives of young college women. He enlisted the aid
of Amelia McSweeney, an 1898 graduate of the University of Michigan and
a woman prominent in educational and civic life in Detroit. She and
several alumnae of Omega Upsilon felt that a fraternity for Catholic
women was a pressing need and believed that many of the problems of
Omega Upsilon were perhaps a result of the operations of the chapter
being left completely in the hands of undergraduate members. The alumnae
felt that, with their guidance in matters such as finances and housing,
a new organization for Catholic women would be quite successful.
Throughout the summer of 1912, Amelia McSweeney, seven other alumnae,
and two undergraduate women worked tirelessly, meeting at the home of
Dorothy and Katrina Caughey, to prepare the plans for the new
organization. May C. Ryan contributed the name, motto, and original coat
of arms, and the membership selected the Fraternity's flower, jewels,
Two undergraduate members of Omega Upsilon became members of Theta Phi
Alpha. They were Eva Stroh, a sophomore, and Otilia Leuchtweis, a
senior, who became Theta Phi Alpha's first Chapter President. Plans for
the coming school year were completed on August 30, 1912, and Theta Phi
Alpha began operation on the campus of the University of Michigan.
Otilia and Eva, the undergraduate members, proved an enthusiastic team.
During the first week, they pledged Kathlyn Holmes, Theta Phi Alpha's
first pledge sister, and Marie Sullivan. With the aid of the alumnae,
they held their first initiation on November 16, 1912.
Alpha's insignia have been evolving since the 1920s and includes badges
and guards that designate specific periods of membership, offices held,
or honors received. Much of the symbolism behind this insignia is rooted
in ancient heraldry, and yet the designs are classic and become
treasured pieces of jewelry.
The symbols of
the fraternity - including its colors, jewels, flower, and mascot -
showcase the unique personality of Theta Phi Alpha. Our mascot, the
penguin, was chosen in the 1980s because it is the symbol of friendship.
On all of our campuses, you'll see our sisters proudly promoting our
letters and symbols on banners, sweatshirts, bumper stickers, and
wherever else you can squeeze in the three Greek letters
symbol: the compass.
colors: silver, gold, and blue.
jewels: the sapphire and the pearl.
flower: the white rose.
badge is a gold letter "Theta" set with pearls, superimposed
upon plain gold letters "Phi" and "Alpha." The badge of Theta Phi Alpha
is worn only by initiated members and is at once a means of
identification and a source of pride to the wearer. The Fraternity badge
is to be worn over the heart and is always placed above any other piece
The right to wear the Theta Phi Alpha badge is bestowed on each member
at Initiation and each member is required to purchase a badge to wear
throughout her life. However, should she in any way forfeit the right to
wear the badge, it must be relinquished to the Fraternity's archives.
Upon death of a member, her badge is either sent to the Fraternity's
archives or buried with her. Each member has the responsibility to see
that her family knows of these alternatives, and should arrange to have
one or the other followed at her death.
Pledge Sister Pin is a square badge in black enamel with a gold
compass in the center, and a gold border.
coat of arms is a crest formally described as follows: azure (blue), a
bend (a diagonal band), between a double cross-crosslet (a cross figure
with two transverse beams on each arm and top) fitchy degreed (with the
bottom section pointed, and longer than the others), and a Tudor rose or
(gold), latter seeded sable (the rose has black seeds).
Mantling (a cloak-like arch), azure doubled or (blue combined with
gold). Over an esquire's helmet, the crest, an open book argent
(silver), edged or (edged in gold), charged (imprinted) with two
fleur-de-lis azure (blue conventionalized irises). Motto, Theta Phi
Alpha in Greek, upper and lowercase.
penguin was officially adopted as the Theta Phi Alpha mascot in
ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA . . . PATRONESS OF
THETA PHI ALPHA
St. Catherine of Siena is the patroness of Theta Phi Alpha. Her life is
an example of what we, who have few of the handicaps endured by the
women of her time, can hope to accomplish.
Caterina Benincasa, now known as Catherine of Siena, was born at Siena ,
Italy in 1347, the daughter of a wool-dyer. She was the greatest of the
14th century Italian mystics. From the age of seven years she
experienced visions. At about the age of sixteen, she became a Dominican
tertiary, which gave her a half-lay, half-religious status.
She rapidly gained wide reputation for holiness and severe asceticism.
Her extraordinary charm and strength of mind attracted a following of
important and intelligent men and women, many of whom were to remain
devoted to her throughout her life.
While trying to
establish peace among warring Italian factions, Catherine succeeded in
her most daring venture -- persuading the seventh of the Avignon Popes,
Gregory XI, to return to Rome . At his request, she went to Florence in
1378 as a peace envoy; she remained there until peace was restored
between the Republic of Florence and Pope Urban VI, successor to
Gregory, some nine months later.
After a short
stay in Siena , Catherine went to Rome , probably at the invitation of
Pope Urban VI, whom she helped in reorganizing and reforming the
Catholic Church. She then attempted to restore Joanne I of Naples , a
supporter of the anti-pope Clement VII, to obedience to Urban. However,
her physical energy was exhausted; she died, at the young age of 33, in
Rome on April 29, 1380. She was canonized by the Catholic Church in
1461, and declared a patron saint of Italy in 1939.
Catherine had upon governments is matched by her effect upon Italian
literature. She did not learn to read or write until in her twenties,
but her dictated letters are such models of classical Italian that the
Italian Academy accepts any word used by her as a Catherian word for
inclusion in the Academy's dictionary. Her best known writing is the
which consists of 380 letters and 26 prayers. They reveal an exceptional
political flair, as well as a deep spirituality. The keynote of her
teaching is that each person must withdraw into an "inner cell" to come
to an understanding of self and God.
Theta Phi Alpha
holds Catherine of Siena in such high esteem that her feast day (April
30) is the day we celebrate our founding and we have selected her motto
as our own:
"Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring"