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Remembering Andy…with love and gratitude

By June Johnston

Every year on June 5, I would post on Facebook a few words in remembrance of Fr Michel de Verteuil CSSp, Editor of The Catholic News (CN) from May 1991 to April 2003. These few words were not in memory of his death but of his birthday.

This year as I remembered Fr Michel, I shared the sad news that Andy Pitman, who had worked at CN from 1975 until 2013, had died two days after his own birthday on June 2.

During our time working together at Catholic News, we would have a joint celebration of all the June birthdays—Andy on June 2; Margaret Deane, who worked for many, many years at the CN, on June 3; Bernadette Salandy, who worked voluntarily with us in several capacities, on June 4; and Fr Michel on June 5.

Bernadette (Bernsie) died in January 2023 and ‘Miss Deane’ in July 2023.

Though I shed tears at the passing of Andy, a friend and co-worker, and share in the pain and grief that comes with the death of a beloved father, brother, grandfather, family member, I know Andy is celebrating with all the CN team who worked together and celebrated their birthdays together for many years.

The Catholic News was a very special workplace for members of Andy’s family—his sister Mary, his daughters Andrina and Joyanne, and his ever-faithful friend and friend of the Catholic Centre and the CN, Hazel Weekes.

We remember with love and gratitude Andrew Joseph Pitman, the long-serving worker for some 38 years. He worked almost invisibly with different managers, editors, staff members and volunteers—many not really knowing or understanding his role in keeping this publication going, especially in the face of changing technology.


Andy’s death afforded me the privilege of speaking in person with Sr Marie Thérèse Rétout OP. At 102, Sr Marie Thérèse’s memory and energy in speaking about her time at the paper was inspiring to say the least.

Sr Marie Thérèse, a freelance feature writer/reporter since 1972 when Owen Baptiste was Editor, joined the staff in 1974, a few months after Fr Peter Nicholson CSSp, had been appointed the Editor. It was through Baptiste and his brother Lance Baptiste that Andy began working in 1975.

We read in the February 8, 1976, Memories & Milestones: “The Catholic News set up its office in the new Catholic Centre. Lance Baptiste, who had been the sub-editor since 1972, is succeeded by Andy Pitman. Both were former members of the Trinidad Express staff.”

Alison Barbaste, friend of the paper since 1996, worked voluntarily after office hours, converting copy to braille format for the visually impaired. She migrated to Toronto, Canada in 2003 but always visited the offices whenever she came to Trinidad. She shares these thoughts on Andy’s passing.

“I recalled working with Andy at The Catholic News many moons ago. I remember his gentle smile that filled the room any time I visited the office where he, as well as his daughters worked on the newspaper layout. The entire family worked together tirelessly as a team to ensure that the paper was finished in time to be printed at the Express. In conversation with Andy, one recalled a person who had a deep awareness of what the final newspaper should look like. The attention to detail in all aspects of the publication, his commitment to ensuring that things were done professionally, spoke volumes. He was a quiet person, gifted, talented and an accomplished graphic artist. It is this profession and talent he passed on to his children who continued his legacy to uphold the standard of the publication each week and every year.

When I heard he had a stroke what came to my mind was how fragile life is. How we can be well one day and the next day unable to complete simple tasks. I envisioned him not being able to share his talents with us readers anymore. However, I know in his heart he was aware that he gave his best each and every day to a role that brought out his talents as well as inner strength to persevere.

As I offer my condolences to his family, I pray that in the quiet moments of our lives we reflect on our commitment to do whatever we do well. It’s in these simple things that we witness our faith. We evangelise unaware of the effect we might have on others. Andy lived his life through his work and the love of it is witness more than anything else of an aspiring saint in our midst.”

Zorina Shah, a friend, and adviser to The Catholic News 1991–2013  wrote on Facebook: “I met Andy 50 years ago in the Trinidad Express Features Department, cheerful, helpful. Coming from San Fernando I thought at that time that town people could make strange jokes. May his memory be a gift and a blessing. May he rest in peace.”


Andy, the teacher who taught our Hazel to read

Extract from June 7, 2012 Express article on Hazel Weekes in Real Women series.

…. Weekes began her stint at The Catholic News office first as a cleaner and then dealing directly with the printed copies. “In those days Express used to print The Catholic News. The Catholic News office became her second home as she became a figure-head. She would be the first person you would see, either sitting on a bench or cleaning, on entering the office. Many times, people would ask, “where the short, dark lady?” The answer from coworkers would always be, “Yes, that’s ‘our’ Hazel.”

It was at this office that then and current Catholic News sub-editor, Andy Pitman took an interest and taught her how to read. “The first thing Andy teach me was my A-B-C. He real take his time and help me. The first word I learn to spell was Jesus. Girl, he really make me into somebody and I feel real proud and grateful for it. The people at the Catholic News like my blood brothers and sisters. They replace the family I run away from…