Body of tragic Ulster-born cleric to be brought back from New Zealand

Lynda Patterson.'Taken 1996 at Mansfield College, Oxford
Lynda Patterson.'Taken 1996 at Mansfield College, Oxford

Two separate funeral services are to be held on different sides of the world for a tragic Ulsterwoman who died whilst serving as Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand.

The father of Anglican cleric Lynda Patterson said that her first funeral service is to be held in the city of Christchurch today.

There had previously been uncertainty about where her final resting place would be, amid suggestions that she had wanted to be buried in New Zealand.

However, Cedric Patterson yesterday confirmed that her body will be returned to the Province following today’s service.

He said: “She’ll have a funeral service without a committal in Christchurch, and she’ll have the funeral service with the committal in Dromore Cathedral, at a date yet to be determined.”

Mr Patterson said that it had still not been officially determined how his daughter, aged 40, had died.

Lynda – who was described as one of the “all time greats” of the University of Oxford’s Mansfield College, where she had both studied and taught – did not turn up for Sunday service on July 20 and was later found dead at home.

It is believed she suffered a heart attack, but Mr Patterson said yesterday they are still awaiting a death certificate.

He expects this will arrive in Northern Ireland along with her body.

Mr Patterson said he is hopeful of having her returned by the weekend, but at time of writing he could not be sure.

He and wife Evelyn will not be flying out to New Zealand for today’s 1pm service because of the length of time it would take to get there.

“We have to get her home and we have to get her buried,” he said.

He added that the bishop of Christchurch, Victoria Matthews, will be travelling over to Northern Ireland in due course.

A superb student, upon arriving in New Zealand she had set about learning Maori; the language of native New Zealanders, deemed a necessary skill by the church.

She was praised by a former tutor at Mansfield, who said as soon as he met her he realised he had “struck gold”.

Rev John Muddiman told the News Letter that she not only knew the Bible intimately, but was also a voracious reader of literature.

He described her as a “Lynda, the polymath, (who) could tackle any problem thrown at her from whatever discipline”, adding that she was “the most provocative, thoughtful and often hilarious preacher I have ever heard”.

Despite attaining remarkable success at a very young age, she had faced trials in her life as well.

Rev Muddiman concluded: “But she came through it all with great courage and resilience. And now we have lost her – at such a young age. May she rest in peace.

“She was and will remain one of Mansfield’s all-time greats.”