Sister Carole Ruland
Sister Carole is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, whose early ministries involved religious education in parishes and dioceses in Ohio, New York, Michigan, Washington, D.C., Arizona and West Virginia. During those years she received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from College of Notre Dame of Maryland and a master’s degree in Religious Education from the University of Detroit.
In 1988 she was called to a small community of 180 families in Tucson, Arizona—the Santa Catalina Mission. It was the only parish in the diocese with a pastoral administrator and no priest. She was among the nation’s first religious women to administer a parish. “Nothing had prepared me for this,” she says. “There was no time to learn about the mission; I was given the keys and told that I would figure it out—on-the-job training.”
But with only 180 families, the parish was smaller than most of the religious education programs that she had managed. It was a small parish, but it was growing. Sister Carole kept pace with that growth.
When she left the ministry in 2008, there were 1,250 families and the Santa Catalina Mission was one of the largest “priestless” parishes in the country. To accommodate the growth, a new church was built and the mission was declared a parish.
She is currently serving as a chaplain with a large and innovative hospice care program in Tucson. “I’m overwhelmed with this ministry,” she says. “It’s beautiful and it is an opportunity to walk with people as they prepare to walk through the door into heaven.”