The Sorority Sister Who Became a Religious Sister

At the age of 31, Nan McCue entered the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. Taking the name Sister Mary Celeste, between the years 1929-1962 she served as typist for community administration, coached dramatics and taught in the commercial department of the Academy, was assistant bookeeper to the community treasurer, postmistress at Maple Mount Post Office, and postal clerk. Sister Mary Celeste’s retirement years, beginning in 1962, were spent in the infirmary, suffering from arteriosclerosis. She died on July 8, 1966.

The 1927 Postulant class. Nan is at the bottom left.

Prior to having entered the community, Nan played an instrumental part in the organization of the national Kappa Delta Phi Sorority. The purpose of the sorority was advocating justice  and empowerment for minority groups. Its eight objectives were listed thus:



1. To Teach Sisterly Love
2. Loyalty to God, to Country, to KDP
3. Sublimity of Ideals and Affection
4. Intellectual and Cultural Development
5. To Spread Good Cheer
6. To be a Social Influence in the Community
7. To be of Civic Service to the Community
8. To Honor and Perpetuate the Glories of American Womanhood

Throughout her life, Sister Mary Celeste continued her deep interest in the promotion of a just and compassionate society. The following article on the foundation of the sorority was written by Geneva Fleitz.

The first National Convention of the Kappa Delta Phi Sorority in June 1926. Nan is in the center of the group.

“It is an old story, but interesting – through contact with Phi Delta Kappa Fraternity, Louisville, Ky. The thought of organizing a sorority, to work in connection with the fraternity was conceived. A group of Louisville girls (wives, sweethearts, sisters and friends of the Phi Delts), met on Sunday afternoon, February 9, 1925 in the Phi Delt club room, Third and Main Streets Louisville, Ky. with thirty-six girls present. The idea was explained, temporary officers elected, the name “KAPPA DELTA PHI” adopted and various committees appointed. At the next meeting, February 19, 1925, the constitution, by-laws and ritual were submitted, approved and accepted.

“Within a few months, groups of girls in other cities where there were Chapters of the fraternity, became sorority minded and the Louisville group was consulted on the idea of being a national organization. This step was one we had no thought of taking, and most of us were not familiar with the procedure for making a local sorority a national one. In this phase we were assisted by Mr. Benedict Elder, attorney in Louisville, Ky. And Mr. Paul Collins, Phi Delta Kappa Fraternity, Hamilton, Ohio.

“After the Grant of Incorporation was given us by the State of Kentucky, it was necessary to obtain the approval of the National Governing Body of Phi Delta Kappa Fraternity to operate a Sister Sorority. This approval was not granted, because other local sororities were already working with various chapters of the fraternity. This controversy delayed the installation of Beta Alpha Chapter. November 4, 1925 gave birth to the National Sorority of Kappa Delta Phi. And too, we have seen the wisdom of having a sorority independent of any other organization.

A group photo of the the first National Convention. Nan is in the bottom row, fourth from the left.

“The first chapter was issued to the group at Hamilton, Ohio – Beta Alpha Chapter installed December 19, 1925, At this meeting, which might be termed “Little Convention,” it was decided not to elect National Officers; this was to be delayed until Convention proper. Temporary officers were elected to conduct the organization until such time as election would be held.

“First National Convention was held in Louisville on June 26 and 27, 1926. We were more or less strangers to one another, yet we were assembled for one purpose – to piece together all the threads of Kappa Delta Phi. The name and the objectives of the sorority were the only parts of the first meeting in February 1925, which were retained. The Constitution to govern the national organization had to be drafted. The original ritual was not compiled by a member of Kappa Delta Phi, therefore a new ritual was written. Coat of Arms, designed by Nan McCue (Sister Mary Celeste), was adopted. Nan McCue was the first National President.”