Local News

Clayton priest dies after 2-month battle with COVID-19

Posted February 22, 2021 6:29 p.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2021 8:22 p.m. EST

— A priest at a Catholic church in Clayton died Saturday from COVID-19.

Fr. Hector Rangel Galvan of St. Ann Catholic Church had been hospitalized for eight weeks before dying, according to St. Ann's pastor, Fr. Peter Grace.

"It was horrible because we were praying for a miracle," Grace said. "He fought. Every one of his nurses said he fought hard to get back to his people."

Galvan celebrated his final Mass on Dec. 19 and went into Johnston Health in Smithfield two days after Christmas.

"We have eight people on the staff, [and] each one of us got COVID," Grace said. "We did well – we recovered easily – and we thought it would be the same for him."

Grace said he believes Galvan contracted coronavirus while visiting someone who was sick.

"He was very careful about COVID," he said. "He wore a mask all the time. He kept a safe distance. He did not get COVID from being in the church. He got it probably visiting someone who was sick.

"He took it seriously, and yet, he risked himself in his life for the people," Grace added.

St. Ann's held a virtual vigil for Galvan on Monday and continuing through Tuesday afternoon, with 30 people allowed inside each hour. His funeral is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday and will be streamed online.

Galvan's mother and two brothers died during the pandemic, and he was never able to get back to Mexico to see them, Grace said, adding that he can do that now.

The remains will be sent to Mexico for burial.

“He deserves his rest, and he deserves his reward, which is exactly how I feel," Grace said.

Galvan is survived by his father and three sisters.

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