Church leader in tribute to Ulster cleric

Lynda Patterson, Dean of Christchurch Cathedral
Lynda Patterson, Dean of Christchurch Cathedral

Christians in New Zealand are unlikely to encounter a church leader like Lynda Patterson for a generation, according to one of the country’s leading Anglican figures.

In comments published by the church in the wake of the Ulsterwoman’s funeral yesterday, Rev Dr Peter Carrell joined others in heaping praise on the late cleric before her body is brought back to Northern Ireland to be buried in her native Co Down.

Lynda had been Dean of Christchurch’s temporary ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ – so called because it is made from that material after the stone building was severely damaged in the deadly 2011 earthquake.

Statements from other clergy yesterday also indicated that she had been instrumental in keeping the congregation together in the wake of the natural disaster in February that year which killed more than 180 and was later followed by a second, less-catastrophic quake that June.

Rev Carrell, director of theological education in Christchurch, said: “We may not see her like in our lifetime again – she combined Irish wit and intellectual brilliance with a rare gift of communicating profound truth in everyday language”.

The music had been selected by the Dean herself, with Tuesday’s service hearing that she had suffered serious ill-health in the time before her death.

Her coffin had been carried from the cathedral to a choral rendition of the words: “Lord now lettest thy servant depart in peace according to thy word” – followed by an impromptu native Maori blessing.

Rev Carrell added: “The brilliance of the music chosen by her for the service became a tribute to her own brilliance.”

Cathedral Lay Canon Margaret Neate offerd these warm words for Lynda: “After the earthquakes she was like the glue that held us together. She knew everyone well and she knew just the moment to laugh with us or pray with us.”