By Mary Matarazzo Bryant, Delta Omega (Murray State U), Rituals, Traditions and Jewelry Committee Chairman
Mutual promises are an important bond between Alpha Omicron Pi and its members. This spring that proved to be a challenge as the Coronavirus/COVID-19 became part of everyone’s life. Colleges and universities were closed, and collegiate chapter members returned to their homes. Online meeting platforms enabled members to pick up where they left off with recruiting and extending bids. Then the question became, “How were these chapters going to officially pledge these women?”. The Rituals, Traditions and Jewelry Committee adapted so New Members could be formally pledged using the online meeting platforms. During the spring, New Members continued to learn about AOII and worked to meet their requirements for membership with the guidance of their chapter officers.
As the spring term continued, graduation time drew near. It became obvious everywhere the usual commencement ceremonies would not be conducted in person. AOII’s senior members would not be able to celebrate the end of their collegiate years in AOII with their chapter sisters and experience the traditional “Senior Send Off” with its review of shared AOII memories. Seniors would not be able to formally experience being welcomed to alumnae status locally. RT&J and the AOII Executive Board felt it was important to keep our AOII promise to our seniors that they are forever a part of AOII and that their joys and disappointments are to be ours also. The AOII Executive Board, RT&J and Headquarters Staff collaborated to adapt and provide online “Welcome of Collegiate Seniors to Alumnae Status” Services conducted by our International President, Crystal Grafton Combs. It was moving and heartwarming to have a large number of our AOII seniors from many chapters come together online for this special service.
As summer approached, over five hundred AOII New Members were completing their requirements for membership. We promise New Members that, upon fulfilling requirements, they will be taken into our membership. Again the Executive Board and RT&J worked together with Headquarters Staff to adapt the Ritual for Initiation along with security measures so it could be conducted using an online meeting platform. A modified version of the workshop, “Meeting with Candidates Immediately Prior to Initiation”, was presented by RT&J just before our International President conducted the Ritual for Initiation. Nine Initiations were conducted during late June and July. RT&J has then presented online Post-Initiation Ritual Education workshops for all New Initiates. A second follow up online ritual education workshop has also been developed for collegiate chapter Keepers of the Ritual to use.
The greatest of care has been taken to make these events as meaningful as possible for our New Members, new alumnae, and new initiates. In retrospect, a few months ago the Rituals, Traditions and Jewelry Committee would never have thought that AOII would be having online services, ceremonies, and rituals. The guiding light for our RT&J Committee has been working to make it possible to continue to fulfill the mutual promises made between our Fraternity and our members.
You may contact the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) about anything Ritual-related at RT&J@alphaomicronpi.org.