Nurse's 'bursting energy and smile' remembered at emotional service
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Tributes were paid to a "kind and generous" Norwich nurse who died with coronavirus as a Roman Catholic service took place.
A Requiem Mass was held at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist on Friday afternoon following the death of Estrella Catalan at the age of 52.
With a strict limit of 30 people in the assembly, prayers and family tributes were read out for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital nurse, in addition to the Holy Communion.
Cathedral Dean Canon David Paul read out a tribute from Mrs Catalan's two sons Josh and John, as well as her husband Melvin.
They remembered her cooking, her dancing to songs in the kitchen, late night binge-watching sessions and chanting on the side-lines when watching sport.
"You could never see a day without your bursting energy and smile," wrote Josh.
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John's tribute added: "You have taught me to be strong during the lowest parts of our life, and for that I am grateful. A mother and son bond is unbreakable even in death.
"I know you are up there with Vince (her son) looking out for us, guiding us on every decision we make. You will be forever in our memories and hearts, Ma.
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"You were taken away from us too soon by this cruel and awful virus. I know you tried your best to fight it for as long as you could, promising us that you would be back."
He added that he would make his mother proud by looking after the family and following in her footsteps by becoming a nurse.
Canon Paul said that many hearts were filled with sadness and grief following Mrs Catalan's death on February 5.
But he also said the occasion was an opportunity to rejoice over God's loving plan for Mrs Catalan and everyone else.
He added that the nurse had lived a life of service to God as a Catholic, as well as a life of compassion to her family, friends and patients.
She had been a steward at the Unthank Road cathedral, where she welcomed people with a smile on her face.
The Bishop of East Anglia Alan Hopes told the funeral they had come together to pray for Mrs Catalan on her small journey towards union with God.
He added: "Like all of us as vulnerable and frail human beings, God will purify her of all sin. We pray that this last journey to God will be a swift one because we know there will be so many people out to thank her."
Speaking before the service, Canon Paul said the picture of Mrs Catalan smiling in her nurse uniform at the altar was a fitting reminder of her character and love for her job and faith.
He said: "I think all of us were in a state of shock as she had been on the TV a few weeks before in bed saying she wanted to get back to work. But sadly her health deteriorated.
"She was very, very proud to work for the NHS and when she was ill, she was desperate to get back to work. It brings the best out of us. What a wonderful thing it is to serve, to help and give to other people.
"I knew her very well. She was a steward who was welcoming to people and who showed them to their seats for services.
"She was always supporting, friendly and kind and her nurturing personality with family and people here, and especially in the hospital. She was a really dedicated nurse who loved working for the NHS and being at the hospital. That was her life outside of the cathedral and family."
Floral tributes were set up at the altar in recognition of her work for the NHS.
Canon Paul described it as a real shock to hear of Mrs Catalan's death, but he said there is underlying faith that she will be reunited with her son Vince.
The cortège drove to the NNUH after the funeral, where hundreds of NHS staff stood outside to clap.