Touching family tributes have been paid to nurse, mother and Cathedral steward Estrella Catalan, at her funeral Mass at St John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral in Norwich, writes Keith Morris.
Estrella died on 5th February at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where she worked as an emergency care nurse, after a month-long battle with Covid-19. The requiem Mass took place at noon for 30 family and close friends, joined by many others, including family members in the Phillippines, via the cathedral live-stream service.
Bishop of East Anglia the Rt Rev Alan Hopes who celebrated the Mass, paid tribute to Estrella, saying: “We give thanks for all that Estrella has meant to each one of us. She has touched our lives in so many different ways – as a much-loved wife and mother, a fellow parishioner, a friend, a sister, a colleague and, in particular, as a nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.”
In his homily Cathedral Dean, Canon David Paul, said: “Many tears have been shed over Estrella’s death. Hearts have been filled with sadness and grief. Many of us have felt the pain of separation. Yet we can rejoice because we can see in the Estrella the seed of eternal life.
“Estrella’s life was one of service. She loved being a Catholic. She loved worshipping in the cathedral. She loved being a steward to welcome people as they came in. Her vocation as a nurse was not a job or a profession. For Estrella it was a vocation given to her by God.
“During these awful times of the pandemic, we have been distressed by the suffering we have seen in so many people. Yet in the midst of this we have seen glimpses of great goodness. I think Estrella has brought out the best in us, for we see in her life of service someone touched by God. We feel we are better people for having known her.”
Canon Paul read out tributes from Estrella’s family.
Josh, one of Estrella’s son, wrote: “I will miss you chanting from the sidelines, cooking in the kitchen, jamming to songs, the list goes on about the things you would do for me. You are one of the strongest people I know. You could never see a day without your bursting energy and smile. I will love you forever and always.”
John, also Estrella’s son, wrote: “Mama, you and Papa have shaped me into the person I am today. You have taught me how to be strong in the lowest periods of our life.
“A mother and son bond is unbreakable even in death. You were taken away from us too soon by this cruel and awful virus. I was hoping and praying for a miracle. God has other plans for you and for us, Ma. God loves you so much that he did not want to see you suffer any longer.
“I will miss your vibrant and joyful energy, I will miss everything about you. I will make you proud and follow in your footsteps by becoming a nurse like you. You are my hero and my inspiration.”
Estrella’s husband Melvin, said: “I am very proud of what you have achieved. It is a testament how many people had their lives touched by you.
“You are our hero, God’s gift but your legacy will remain.”
Afterwards, the funeral procession visited Estrella’s home and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, where colleagues paid a final tribute, before a committal at Earlham Crematorium.