Vigil begins as body of 'selfless' nurse arrives at cathedral

Nurse Estrella Catalan's coffin inside St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Nurse Estrella Catalan's coffin inside St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Respects are being paid to a Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) nurse who died after a long battle with coronavirus. 

Emergency department staff nurse Estrella Catalan died at the age of 52 on February 5 having joined the trust in September 2002. 

A vigil mass and funeral is being held at St John the Baptist Cathedral on Thursday and Friday this week, during which prayers will be said for the nurse. 

Nurse Estrella Catalan's coffin inside St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Nurse Estrella Catalan's coffin inside St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

It is Catholic tradition for a coffin to be brought into a church the night before a funeral. After the coffin arrived at St John's Cathedral at 4.30pm on Thursday, the vigil mass took place at 7pm. 

Estrella Catalan

NNUH staff nurse Estrella Catalan died in early February after a long battle with the coronavirus - Credit: JustGiving

The church has been left open for people to pay their respects and for prayers and vigil ahead of a Requiem Mass at noon on Friday.

There is a strict 30-person limit for the funeral, but it is being live-streamed on YouTube. Cathedral Dean Canon David Paul will be leading the funeral.

Daniel Justin, director of music at St John the Baptist, said: "During the last week of Estrella's life, our priest was going to the hospital to sit with her family and pray right until the end. 

Flowers representing the NHS at the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan at St John's RC Cathedral. Pict

Flowers representing the NHS at the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan at St John's RC Cathedral. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021


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"A lot of the nursing community was praying with the priests who were not allowed into the Covid ward. 

"Estrella was one of the cathedral stewards who was always offering help to others and welcoming people to the services. She  used to welcome people with a smile and was a really important part of the cathedral community who will be missed very much." 

Nurse Estrella Catalan's coffin is carried into St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil. Picture: DENIS

Nurse Estrella Catalan's coffin is carried into St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

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Her mother and other family members will be following the funeral from the Philippines due to the coronavirus affecting travel. 

In normal circumstances, it is Philippines tradition to hold the prayer vigil in between a death and the funeral, but this was not possible on this occasion due to the lockdown. 

A family member with their dog at St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan. P

A family member with their dog at St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Two online fundraising pages raised more than £61,000 for the family during and after her treatment. 

Jenelyn Bales, who set up one page, said: “Her selflessness and dedication carried on even when she was on her hospital bed, she still thought and talked about when she could go back to work to help patients and colleagues throughout this pandemic.”

The hearse arrives at St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan. Picture: DENI

The hearse arrives at St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Flowers are taken into St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan. Picture: DEN

Flowers are taken into St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Flowers representing the NHS at the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan at St John's RC Cathedral. Pict

Flowers representing the NHS at the vigil for nurse Estrella Catalan at St John's RC Cathedral. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Nurse Estrella Catalan's coffin inside St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Nurse Estrella Catalan's coffin inside St John's RC Cathedral for the vigil. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

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