Sisters' Stories
Sr Elizabeth (Liz) Langmead Sr. Loretta Cornell Sr. Amarilis Flores Arrioja Sr. Carole Ruland Sr. Joanne Frey

Sister Elizabeth (Liz) Langmead, MHSH President


She was in her late 20s—working as a paralegal at a Columbia, Maryland, law firm, dating, planning on a future of marriage and a family. It should have been a great life, but Liz Langmead felt that something was missing.

“Certainly entering religious life was in my mind and heart, but I didn’t want to listen to it,” she recalls. “Finally I reached a point where I knew I had to look into it, because the feeling just wouldn’t go away.”

She met the Mission Helpers at an Archdiocese of Baltimore gathering of religious communities. “There was something about them,” she says, “their spirit and their involvement with people in the margins.”

She joined the Community in 1985. Those “people in the margins” have shaped her ministry. Her first missions were in Baltimore at Our Daily Bread, a hot meal program, and My Sister’s Place, a drop-in day center for homeless women and children.

In Arizona, Sister Liz worked in youth ministry and outreach programs to depressed areas at the Mexican border, and she served four years as director of youth ministry at Annunciation Parish in Altamonte Springs, Florida.

She served as Chaplain of the New England Medical Center for three years and was director of the Mary Frances Cunningham Ministries in Baltimore. Later, with the Hezekiah Movement, her ministry focused on women with addictions, and at the Dundalk Youth Services she worked with troubled young people and their families.

In 2007, she began working with the women of Marian House, a refuge where homeless women, and their children, are empowered to move from dependence to independence,

Sister Liz holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Towson University and a master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University Maryland. She has also done theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary and University and is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.

Sister Liz served as MHSH Treasurer from 2008 to 2016 and as Vice President from 2012 to 2016. She was elected President in April 2016.

Sister Loretta Cornell

Sister Loretta is a native of Baltimore, Maryland; her early ministry took her to Staten Island, New York, as a resident counselor at Boys’ Hope, a living and learning program for boys unable to live at home. Later, she served as co-director of a New Jersey-based program that worked with families and children in foster care.

Back in Baltimore, she served as pastoral associate at Our Lady of Fatima parish before becoming the campus minister and teacher of religion at Seton Keough High School. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and a master’s degree in Religious Studies from Fordham University.

She served as both Vocations Director and Treasurer before being elected President of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart in 2008. As President, Sister Loretta’s ministry is of and for her Sisters. “We believe that we are called by God in our faith,” she says. “We trust God, and are free to focus our love of God on our ministries and the people we reach in those ministries. Our Sisters are truly a gift from God, and I feel very blessed to have their support and prayers.”

Sister Joan Mikulski

Sister Joan joined the Mission Helpers following more than a decade of life experiences, including college, graduate school, teaching, traveling, flying lessons and 14 months in another religious congregation. She credits an outdoor survival program in Colorado for her “spiritual awakening.”

Her first mission was as a youth minister in a suburban Baltimore parish, followed by a mission working with single mothers and their babies. Sister Joan, who was a Physical Education major, is a firm believer in body, mind and spiritual integration and is certified in both bioenergetics and massage therapy. A native of Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Slippery Rock University and a certification in Early Childhood Education from Bloomsburg University, both in Pennsylvania.

She has taught religion in Florida, Arizona and Maryland and served as a massage therapist at the Mercy Center for Healing in Colorado. While a campus minister at the St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish in Boulder, Colorado, she led a group of students to Biloxi, Mississippi, for a rebuilding project following Hurricane Katrina. She is currently pastoral assistant at Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish in Tacoma, Washington, where her favorite part of ministry is teaching. “I love it when people really hunger to learn the faith,” she says.

Sister Amarilis Flores Arrioja

Born in Anzoategui State, Venezuela, Sister Amarilis first came to know the Mission Helpers as a 22-year-old lay missioner, working with the Sisters among the poorest of the poor in rural Manzanita. “It has been my privilege to work among the people of God,” she says, “to rejoice with them, to share my faith and my life, to struggle in their struggle.”

She formally entered the Mission Helpers Community in 1998 and took her final vows in 2007 at Mission Helper Center in Baltimore. During her novitiate, she taught English as a second language in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and worked with infants and toddlers in a child care center there. She moved to Boston in 2000 and worked with the Hispanic community at Holy Cross Cathedral.

She returned to Venezuela after taking final vows and helped to establish the Mission Helpers’ first Formation program outside of the United States. Sister Amarilis meets with and mentors women who are discerning religious life and teaches English to local teenagers.

She visits parish youth groups and schools and serves as a counselor to troubled families. On weekends, she returns to Manzanita, where her ministry began, and visits people in their homes, prepares new lay missioners and helps people overcome the challenges and hardships of poverty that confront them daily. She holds a bachelor’s degree in religious education from the Graduate Theological Foundation.

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.”

Sister Joanne Frey

Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Sister Joanne holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Religious Education from Catholic University. Her ministries in religious education have ranged from migrant workers in Texas to scholars at major universities.

When she entered the Community, she expected that she would be teaching religion to children rather than becoming a teacher of teachers, many of whom were Sisters and seminarians. “Of course,” she says, “I taught children, too, because in order to prepare teachers one has to know how to teach the children.” One child taught by Sister Joanne was Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. Mrs. Kennedy asked Sister Joanne to be Caroline’s first instructor in religion—it was 1963, the year in which President Kennedy was assassinated.

In addition to Washington, D.C., her missions have taken her to Virginia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Newton, Massachusetts, where she spent two decades as a pastoral associate at St. Bernard’s Parish. “These were the most fulfilling years,” she recalls. “I was encouraged to minister according to my heart’s desires and I was very much involved with parents and the teaching of their children.”

Sister Joanne served as General Director (President) of the Community for eight years. She is now retired, and, following a slight stroke, is living in the assisted living unit of The Villa.
“I love it here,” she says. “There’s so much to do.” She is 91 years old and says, “I’m a bit surprised to find myself this old, and I’m grateful to God for these extra years.”