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.