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Funeral Services Set For Caitlin Nelson, 20-Year-Old SHU Student

Caitlin Mary Nelson
Caitlin Mary Nelson Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Funeral services have been set for Caitlin Mary Nelson, a 20-year-old Sacred Heart University student who died Sunday.

Visitation is from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 7, at St. Helen's Church, 1600 Rahway Ave., Westfield, N.J.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 8, at the church.

Interment will follow in Fairview Cemetery in Westfield.

Nelson, a junior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, died Sunday, three days after choking during a pancake-eating contest on campus.

She died of asphyxia due to obstruction of the airway by a small mass of food, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner said.

Related story: Sacred Heart University mourns the death of 20-year-old social work student

Last Sunday night’s Mass at SHU’s Chapel of the Holy Spirit was dedicated to Nelson. The event was attended by thousands of students, faculty and staff.

The service at SHU was followed by an impromptu candlelight vigil as community members consoled one another and offered prayers for her and her family and friends.

Nelson, a lifelong resident of Clark, N.J., was born May 3, 1996, in Summit, N.J. Her parents are Rosanne (Iuzzolino) Nelson and the late James A. Nelson, a Port Authority policeman who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center.

At SHU, Nelson was studying social work and was a member of the Kappa Delta Sorority, where she served as vice president of community service.

Nelson was also a member of Camp Sea Stars North and the Resiliency Center of Newtown.

At St. Helen's Church, she was a peer minister and a participant in the Catholic Heart Work Camp and Sr. Pat's Kids Camp.

"Caitlin gave in every aspect of her life, including donating her organs as a final act of giving," the obituary said.

She is survived by her devoted mother, Rosanne Nelson and her friend, John Fitzgerald; and her sister, Anne Catherine Vetri and her husband Frank.

She was predeceased by her father, James A. Nelson; her maternal grandparents, George and Anna Iuzzolino; and her paternal grandparents, Robert and Catherine Nelson.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to two organizations where she volunteered:

  • Sr. Pat's Kids Camp, c/o of St. Helen's Church, 1600 Rahway Ave., Westfield, NJ 07090 or
  • Camp Sea Stars North, c/o Resiliency Center of Newtown, 153 S. Main St., Newtown, CT 06470.

Arrangements were handled by Walter Johnson Funeral Home. Click here for more information or to leave an online condolence.

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