The final month of the fall semester also marked a new beginning for Catholic women at Northern Arizona University.
Twenty of them from every class became charter members of Mu Epsilon Theta, the newest campus sorority and one that’s wholly Catholic. Members from the sorority’s four other chapters across Texas and Arizona joined pledge night events Dec. 4.
Katie Bandy, who was a charter member of Arizona State University’s chapter two and a half years ago, was key to launching the latest chapter. She’s now a missionary in Lumberjack land through the Fellowship of Catholic University Students at the Holy Trinity Newman Center. As such, Bandy noted a lack of consistency in women’s fellowship despite a myriad of activities and ways to get involved.
“It brings evangelization in a different light,” Bandy said.
She noted how some Catholic women who might not commit to a Bible study or feel called to get involved in Church life beyond Mass, could get excited about Greek life and stay once discovering the opportunity for true sisterhood.
Both factors appealed to Kimberly Shaffer, a 20-year-old business economics student. As part of the Newman Center’s Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program, it was a blessing that the sorority was Catholic. She once tried traditional sorority life, “but things just didn’t seem to click,” Shaffer said.
“My first two years of college were very difficult. I was searching for something I felt I could not find, constantly placing my heart in worldly desires without trying to find God,” Shaffer admitted less than 24 hours after pledge night.
When a personal tragedy struck and Shaffer was unsure how to carry on, it was her earthly father who said, “Seek God if you want to get through this, Kimberly.”
She followed his advice and felt her heart open up and a happiness she’d never experienced. She realized a priceless love from God.
Shaffer still has occasional college worries like grades and work, but with God at her side, remembers they are surmountable. She already signed up as “MuEp’s” treasurer so she could have a key role in financing and supporting other charter chapters.
Mu Epsilon Theta (ΜΕΘ)
A Catholic sorority based on spirituality, sisterhood and service expanded to a second Arizona university.
“This sorority has helped me so much in rediscovering my faith and I want to help bring this experience to others,” Shaffer said.
Amanda Garcia, 19, already sees a difference in her life since going through the pledge process. It included events like initiation, a retreat and a pledge presentation party. Three carloads of Mu Epsilon Theta members from ASU commuted to NAU for each one.
“I love the fact that I have this wonderful and beautiful group of girls supporting me by my side,” said Garcia, who once considered a traditional sorority. “I’ve never felt more love and acceptance than I have with MuEp. It has definitely been the best decision in my life.”
Garcia admitted she had never been super involved with church activities, but has felt very welcomed by the church and peers. She sees individuality in her peers who gather within a united faith.
“Each one of my sisters is incredibly beautiful inside and out. They all have hearts of gold and I am so glad to begin this amazing journey of the sorority with them,” Garcia said.
Of the 20 young women initiated, eight will be among a contingent of 50 Catholic students from both NAU and ASU at a leadership conference in the New Year. They’re headed to Dallas Jan. 1-5 for a FOCUS-led conference intended to train young adults in the art of evangelization.
“I’m really excited to see how that affects the sisterhood,” Bandy said.
She wouldn’t be surprised if a Catholic fraternity is forthcoming. Phi Kappa Theta launched at ASU just over a year ago after seeing the formation of a women’s sorority.