Sr Leone Wittmack has lived in the Northern Territory since 2015, making an impact for the good wherever she goes.
Having held many leadership positions with the Sisters of Charity including Director – of Mission for St Vincent’s Health Australia she came to the NT, with a wealth of experience and a passion to serve the poor and marginalised.
Working now at Catholic Care, NT she is General Manager Mission and Culture with the goals of integrating mission values into all areas of work. Her focus is to make what is written in mission statements and strategic plans real and experienced by the most vulnerable.
Sr Leone’s work has been laying emphasis in ensuring that the Mission and Values of Catholic Care transpire from the heart of Catholic social teaching with a particular focus on respect, human dignity and preferential option for the poor and stewardship of creation.
Walking with Aboriginal people is a commitment for Catholic Care and Sr Leone has been involved in developing the Reconciliation Action Plans in partnership with Reconciliation Australia. These plans ensure that Catholic Care puts into practise their Mission and Values.
With some of the programs and projects being very demanding in nature, a crucial part of Sr Leone’s role is to Pastorally support staff in their work. Working with different cultures is a particular passion of Sr Leone’s and she’s always grateful for the many privileged opportunities she has had which has contributed to her growth both personally and spiritually.
Growing up in Toowoomba, Queensland she had a happy and positive experience of family, school, and Church. Having completed her training at St Vincent’s in Toowoomba, she entered the Sisters of Charity in Sydney in 1970.
In the 1980’s the Sisters of Charity had made the decision that the Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney which included the Sacred Heart Hospice would be the dedicated integrated health service for HIV patients. Sr Leone had the opportunity of working across at all levels in the health services including as ‘Director of Nursing’ at the Sacred Heart Hospice in Sydney at the height of the HIV AIDS crisis.
Sr Leone highlights her overseas experiences across various countries which encompassed those suffering amidst war and post-war. Working in refugee camps has contributed to her perspective on various issues that are still prevalent today.
Some key experiences from 1979 through to the start of this century are:
During the 1979-80 Thai – Cambodianborder at the time of Pol Pot, she was seconded to International Red Cross. She was part of the health team that saw the building of the Children’s hospital in the refugee camp which was at the heart of the civil war. Having to jump into trenches during an attack on the camp is an experience Sr Leone has never forgotten.
1991-92 – working in PNG in Vanimo.This experience is fondly remembered by Sr Leone as she joined 2 other Sisters of Charity who worked in health and education. During this time she worked with local PNG nurses to implement the ‘anti-malarian mosquito net program.
1994-1995 Rwanda, Africa Working with Care Australia Sr Leone was in Zaïre working with children under 2 years old who were classified as “unaccompanied children” as their parents were missing due to the conflict. In Butre, Sr Leone managed the ‘unaccompanied children centre’ where many children suffered and died of various diseases including AIDS and malnutrition (emotionally and physically). Some of her fondest memories were when Mothers or other family members would wander in to the centre and claim their children!
Having returned to Australia and finally completing her Ministry in the health services in 2012, Sr Leone welcomed an opportunity to work in the Northern Territory with Catholic Care NT.
Sr Leone is very grateful to her congregation that the Sisters are trusted and empowered to extend their Ministries beyond the traditional realms of past ministries and work with at the grass roots with people who are poor, marginalised and vulnerable which is at the heart of the Charism of the Sisters of Charity which is highlighted in their 4th vow of service of the poor.
Sr Leone enjoys keeping fit and participates in various fun runs. She also loves playing the djembe drums which enriches choirs across various Masses across the Diocese. She has also conducted drumming circles and attributes her love of drumming to the children in Rwanda.
Sr Leone’s motto is ‘With you my God, I am, and I can’ which also reflects the motto of Mary Aikenhead the founder of the Sisters of Charity which is ‘I can do all things in Him who strengthens me’