This post is courtesy of Historian Fran Becque as part of her continuing series on Pi Phi heritage.
When New Members become part of Pi Beta Phi, and our 25 National Panhellenic Conference sister organizations for that matter, they have some idea what goes along with membership in a fraternity for women. They likely know they’ll be taking part in philanthropic activities, there will be an emphasis on academics, there will be activities with men’s and women’s Greek-letter organizations and there will be sisterhood events. These are the things we discuss during recruitment. They might not realize rituals are part of each organization.
One of Pi Beta Phi’s rituals is our Initiation Ceremony. It is one of the most moving and beautiful ceremonies in which I have taken part. I have many Pi Phi friends who feel the same way. I can still recall so many details of my own initiation, and it took place decades ago. Just to make it clear, the Founders did not write that particular ceremony. It came a little later, but most of them experienced model initiation at various conventions or attended a chapter initiation ceremony.
The values, which are reflected in our Initiation Ceremony, are guideposts for a fulfilling, contented and meaningful life. To live those values on a day-to-day basis should be our fervent goal. To know that we are a part of an organization nearly 147 years old, whose values have remained constant for all those years and whose members have taken a pledge to live those values, is comforting and motivating. Those values bring with them a responsibility to live each and every day to the very best of our abilities.
In addition to Initiation, we also have a chapter meeting ritual. It was written by Anna S. Hazelton, a charter member of the D.C. Alpha Chapter. She wrote it in 1890 when she was a collegian. It was officially adopted by the 1893 Convention. Its beauty and simplicity are stunning. One of the “goosebump moments” at convention is when the meeting is opened and closed with the ritual. To hear more than 1,000 women recite the same words is a feeling every Pi Phi should experience.
A ritual for New Member meetings was approved at the 1927 Convention. It was then known as the ritual for pledge meetings. It was prepared by Colorado Beta Emilie King Engelbach.
These rituals are center to the values for which we stand. They are what set Pi Beta Phi apart from every other organization. They make our Fraternity so very special.
As a freshman at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, it didn’t take long for Susan Bruch to realize she wanted to be a member of Pi Phi. And in the spring of 1990, she made her lifelong commitment. Susan has many fond memories of her years as a collegiate member, including late nights bonding with sisters. “We would sit in the hallway and talk about anything and everything,” Susan said. “It was wonderful and a time I will never forget.”
Susan now resides in Atlanta, Georgia, and has stayed active as an alumna, serving on Georgia Alpha’s Alumnae Advisory Committee, holding leadership roles for the Alpharetta, Georgia, Alumnae Club and chairing Michigan Alpha’s 125th Anniversary in 2012. She currently serves in a pilot position as Coordinating Specialist for Region Two.
Since her initiation, Susan says Pi Phi has always been there for her, even during life’s biggest challenges. In 2005, Susan was in a terrible car accident that left her with a serious brain injury. During those following weeks and months, Susan says her Pi Phi sisters were by her side every step of the way. “They took me to doctors’ appointments, brought me food and supported me during my lowest days,” Susan said. “They were my angels and truly saved my life.”
Though the road to recovery was long, Susan is now stronger than ever. Her positive spirit and outlook are contagious, and she is committed to giving back and helping others through volunteering and personal contributions.
Susan will turn 42 this year and decided to join Pi Beta Phi Foundation’s Marianne Reid Wild Society by making a planned gift. “I always told myself this was something I was going to do when I got older, but when I recently sat down to draft my will I decided now was the time,” Susan said. “My accident was a reminder to me that you can never wait for the right time.”
Susan’s bequest will support future generations of Pi Phis through academic scholarships and grants to help sisters in need through the Emma Harper Turner Fund. “It makes me feel really good to know I will support my sisters in this way. You are never too young to make decisions about your future. We are not invincible, so why not plan now to support those causes and people you love?”
This post is sponsored by Pi Beta Phi Foundation. Pi Beta Phi Foundation enables the Fraternity to realize its mission and ensures the future of our sisterhood.