Deacon Wayne Wittman was peace and justice leader

| March 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

Deacon Wayne C. Wittman, a passionate advocate for working people and a tireless supporter of peace and human rights on a global scale, died Feb. 24. He was 86.

Deacon Wayne Wittman

Deacon Wayne Wittman

Born in Humboldt, Iowa, on Sept. 11, 1929, he served as a member of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps during the Korean War, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in counseling psychology, then worked for the State of Minnesota for 26 years as a rehabilitation counselor.

His supervisor recommended him for the permanent diaconate.

Ordained a deacon for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1984, he served his home parish, Sacred Heart on St. Paul’s east side, ministering to the homebound, and working with senior citizens and the parish social justice committee.

Deacon Wittman served on the St. Paul School Board, chaired the citizen review board for the St. Paul Police Department, and was a member of the archdiocesan Deacon Council.

He was active in the labor movement at a time when plant closings by companies like Whirlpool and American Hoist and Derrick left hundreds without jobs. He chaired the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation’s Community Services Committee, and under his leadership the committee set up a rapid-response system to help laidoff workers connect with available services and resources, and in emergencies provide financial assistsance for families in dire straits.

A resolution by the Minnesota Senate commended him for helping to organize a community watchdog effort when an African-American family built a home in St. Paul’s Phalen Lake area.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson called Deacon Wittman “the conscience of the labor movement” in the Twin Cities.

He was a founding member of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace, protested the training of Latin American soldiers in torture at the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and frequently traveled to Nicaragua to act as an election observer. In 2014, the Veterans for Peace national organization honored him with its lifetime achievement award.

Deacon Wittman is survived by his wife of 59 years, Joan, five children and 10 grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Deacon Wittman was celebrated Feb. 29 at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet’s Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel in St. Paul.

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Category: Obituaries