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Monday, 07 February 2022 20:37

Eulogy: Sr Pauline Pitman fdnsc (21.4.1937 - 19.1.2022)

srpaulinepitman 250“You did not choose me, I chose you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. (John 15:16)

Early on Wednesday afternoon, 19th January, Pauline gently and peacefully breathed her last breath and came face to face with God whom she had lovingly and generously served. Pauline was 84 years old and had just celebrated the 64th anniversary of her Religious Profession as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

To Pauline’s brothers Michael and Gregory, her nieces and nephews and all her relatives and friends who loved her so much and are deeply saddened by her death, we offer our deep sympathy and love. You know well her deep love for you, her pride and joy in you, and her gratitude to you.  We also offer sympathy to those who join us from around the world, especially, our Sisters.

Pauline Mary Pitman was born in Sale, Victoria on 21st April, 1937 to Charles and Nora Pitman, the third child of five children.

In 1940 the family moved to Lidennow South and they stayed here during the war years.

The final years of World War 2, when Pauline was between the ages of five and 10 years old, affected her during the whole of her life.  She remembers many Italian POWS working on the dairy farms and many of the local young men were away fighting in the war.

 Her father had a one teacher school with eight classes. Pauline was determined to start school and at age 4 she started school and brought the Lindenow South State School enrolment up to 30! Pauline attended a number of schools because of her father’s job. She spent six years at Notre Dame de Sion School, a year boarding with the Brigidines in Mentone, completing her studies at Sacred Heart College, Shepparton.  Pauline embraced these moves because it opened her world to make a number of friends to enjoy various interests with, including sport, dancing and we won’t be surprised to hear that Pauline herself says she had a great social life. On completing her secondary education Pauline went to Emily McPherson College of Domestic Economy because she wanted to be a nurse and she knew she could do nursing there.

Pauline’s parents had a deep faith with love of the rosary, mass and devotion to the Sacred Heart. There was always a copy of the latest Annals in the family home and when Pauline was in Grade 5 she dreamed of being a missionary. The dream continued to grow and when she was 11 she met Sr Aileen Crowe who was enroute to Kiribati and our ever decisive Pauline decided at that moment that as soon as she was able she would join the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

In 1956 Pauline entered the Novitiate at Bowral, taking the name Sr Mario. She was professed in January 1958 at Hartzer Park. After profession Pauline studied to be a nurse and midwife and her life long dream to be a missionary as a DOLSH was fulfilled when on the 31st May, 1965 she travelled to PNG to be a Missionary and a nurse. Her first appointment was eighteen months nursing at St Therese’s hospital at Badili in Port Moresby.

The next six years Pauline was nursing at Napapar, Uvol and Paparatava on New Britain Island.  This involved going on patrol to the villages and assisting the people medically in their own situations.  She also trained PNG nurses who became the backbone of the health system run by the Catholic Church.  Pauline’s work was to keep up the immunization of babies and to see the mothers for antenatal treatment. This was very important and reports were made each month and sent to the Health Department.  As with all our nursing Sisters on isolated outstations, Pauline was called upon to diagnose and treat various conditions that normally a doctor would attend to.  The people greatly appreciated her care of them and Pauline was grateful to the other Sisters in community who – though they were not nurses – helped out in the hospital when there was a need.

In 1976 Pauline returned to Port Moresby where for the next two years she was the National Coordinator for Natural Family Planning in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.  This was an appointment by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.  During this time Pauline travelled to many Dioceses to teach leaders about the Billings Method of Natural Family Planning.  She found this very satisfying and the men and women she trained continued this work after she left.

Unfortunately, the reactions she had to the anti-malarial tablets brought her back to Australia in 1978.  She firstly resided at Kensington and then in Toowoomba for two years where she continued her Natural Family Planning work.  On her return to Kensington, she was infirmarian both at the Convent and at Sacred Heart Monastery Infirmary.  From 1983 to 1985 she was once more in Toowoomba.  She spent a year at Taroom doing pastoral work before going to Port Keats and Santa Teresa where she nursed and trained others.

Pauline always showed an interest in others and had a good memory for people she had met and had socialised with.  She was very outgoing and touched the lives of many.

When it was becoming apparent that Pauline’s health was failing she asked to transfer to St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility in 2007. What a time of suffering for our dear Pauline! It was at St Joseph’s that she was beautifully cared for until her death.

We thank God for the many gifts given to Sr Pauline Pitman.  We thank the Pitman family for their gift of her to our religious family.  

We will remember Pauline as a woman of deep faith who cared for the sick and infirmed with tenderness and compassion.

We thank you Pauline for your interest in each one of us, your kindness and good humour.

May your courageous soul rest in peace.