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Theta Phi Alpha

Theta Phi Alpha
File:Theta Phi Alpha crest.jpg
Founded August 30, 1912; 103 years ago (1912-08-30)
(University of Michigan, (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Type Social
Scope National
Motto "Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring."
Colors      Blue      Gold      Silver
Symbol Compass
Flower White Rose
Jewel Sapphire, Pearl
Mascot Penguin
Publication The Compass
Philanthropy Glenmary Home Missioners,
The House That Theta Phi Alpha Built
Chapters 53 (active)
Headquarters 27025 Knickerbocker Road
Bay Village, Ohio, USA

Theta Phi Alpha (ΘΦΑ) also known as "Theta Phi" women's fraternity was founded at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor on August 30, 1912. Theta Phi Alpha is one of 26 national sororities recognized in the National Panhellenic Conference. Originally a sorority for Catholic women, Theta Phi Alpha opened its doors in the 60's to women of all faiths and celebrates a proud tradition of religious diversity amongst its members.


In early 1909 the organization, originally Omega Upsilon, was started as a fraternity for Catholic women. Bishop Edward D. Kelly was the pastor of the student chapel at the university and saw a need for Catholic women to have a place to go for socialization and friendship. At the time, other fraternities on campus openly discriminated against Catholic women and would not welcome them into their organizations.

By the Spring of 1912, Omega Upsilon was failing financially and membership was low. Kelly, now the Bishop of Grand Rapids, requested the assistance of Amelia McSweeney, who graduated from the University in 1898. Amelia and other alumni of Omega Upsilon began actively to redesign the failing organization.

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, and colors.

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 took in Kathlyn Holmes, Theta Phi Alpha's first new member, and Marie Sullivan. With the aid of the alumnae, they held their first initiation on November 16, 1912.

In the early 1950s, Theta Phi Alpha absorbed Pi Lambda Sigma, the only other national Catholic fraternity. Pi Lambda Sigma's badge was a black aureole with the letters Pi, Lambda, Sigma, in gold, written vertically.

At the 46th Bi-Annual National Convention in 2006 held in Atlanta, the Convention body of Theta Phi Alpha approved the expansion of its Grand Council from five to seven members to accommodate the fast-growing national fraternity. Theta Phi Alpha celebrated its centennial anniversary at their National Convention in July 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the site of its founding Alpha Chapter.



The official colors are blue, gold, and silver.


The compass is the official symbol.


The white rose.


Both the sapphire and the pearl.


The penguin was officially adopted as the Theta Phi Alpha mascot in 1987.

Coat of Arms

The 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.


Theta Phi Alpha reveres these ten women as the Founders:[1]

  • Dorothy Caughey Phalan
  • Katrina Caughey Ward
  • Mildred Connely
  • Selma Gilday
  • Otilia Leuchtweis O'Hara
  • Amelia McSweeney
  • Camilla Ryan Sutherland
  • Helen Ryan Quinlan
  • May C. Ryan
  • Eva Stroh Bauer Everson


The Theta Phi Alpha Foundation of Theta Phi Alpha oversees the organization's philanthropic causes. Theta Phi Alpha nationally supports Glenmary Home Missioners and The House That Theta Phi Alpha Built. Glenmary's work is in depressed rural areas of the United States, primarily in the Appalachian Mountains, where they distribute food, clothing, and books to needy persons, and assist in providing medical care, job training and tutoring. The House That Theta Phi Alpha Built is Theta Phi Alpha's newest philanthropic cause, established in 1993. The common goal through The House is to improve the plight of the homeless in any way. The chapter can seek to provide assistance to organizations that help the homeless, shelters, home building or neighborhood revitalization projects. This goal permits all Theta Phi Alphas to help those in need in their own community, while remaining united in our aim and purpose. Theta Phis also actively support Camp Friendship.[2]

Badge and motto

The 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 of jewelry. The badge is to be worn with 'badge attire' which is similar to business attire.

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.

Theta Phi Alpha recognizes Saint Catherine of Siena as the patroness. Her motto, "Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring," is the fraternity's official motto. The Siena Medal, awarded by the fraternity, is the highest award given to a non-member of Theta Phi Alpha. Because of the deep respect and reverence for Saint Catherine, her feast day, April 30, is used to celebrate the fraternity's founding because the original date, August 30, frequently does not fall within the academic year at most universities.[3]


The creed of Theta Phi Alpha is important to its members as a foundation of the sisterhood. The ideals of the sisters of Theta Phi Alpha are expressed in the creed. The creed connects new members, collegiates and alumnae of Theta Phi Alpha across generational and geographical distances.

Theta Phi Alpha Creed:

Justice to each fellow man

Wisdom in each deed and plan

Loyalty to every friend

Faith that sorrow can transcend.

Truth to God and truth to self

Honor valued over wealth

This is the creed that in us lies

The creed of loyal Theta Phis.

The white rose for its purity

The sapphire blue for loyalty

The compass for its needle sure

That holds our course firm and secure.

The silver for a precious faith

That knows no end not even death

This is the creed that in us lies

The creed of loyal Theta Phis.[4]

Notable alumnae

  • Louise Kelly Bailey (Kappa '33) - Performer/member of the "Dancing Kellys" vaudeville act; sister of actor/dancer Gene Kelly.
  • Marge Schott (Epsilon '47) – former managing general partner, president and CEO of the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Andrea Seastrand (Alpha Gamma '60) – US House of Representative for California’s 22nd District.
  • Patricia Clancy (Epsilon '71) – Ohio Senator from the 8th District (2004–present).
  • Chris Misch Rhein (Alpha Nu '79) – Poet and author of Wild Flight.
  • Dr. Mari Ann Callais (Alpha Beta '86) – CAMPUSPEAK presenter.
  • Mollye Rees (Beta Delta '00) – Country/Christian Singer.
  • Tisha Terrasini Banker (Alpha Beta '92) – TV Actress in Criminal Minds, Dirty Sexy Money, Joey, etc.

Siena Medal

The Siena Medal is an award given by Theta Phi Alpha. The medal is the highest honor the organization bestows upon a non-member and is named after Saint Catherine of Siena.

Some Past Recipients of the Siena Medal:


External links