The parents of tragic Anglican cleric Lynda Patterson said they have been inundated with support, as tributes continued to flow for their daughter.
Lynda, the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand, was found dead at her home after she did not turn up for Sunday service.
A death certificate has not been issued to the family at time of writing, but it was suspected the 40-year-old may have suffered a heart attack.
Yesterday her father Cedric said that visits to their home in Dromore, Co Down, have been non-stop since the news broke.
Asked if the community has been being supportive, the 68-year-old said: “Supportive? The house hasn’t ceased all day. There were two chaps who came in here who we didn’t know – one was the Garvaghy Presbyterian minister, who said he was just calling to give his sympathies.”
He visited the cathedral about six weeks ago and Lynda had shown him around.
“People have called and they’re very kind – at the moment the house is full,” he said last night.
He added that he has been told that there are memorial services taking place across New Zealand.
Among the many stand-out events of Lynda’s life was the deadly and widely-reported 2011 Christchurch earthquake which seriously damaged their cathedral – while she and 19 others were inside.
After the disaster, she set about the task of “looking after her flock” and keeping the congregation going, said Mr Patterson.
New Zealand media and social websites have continued carrying tributes to her.
Auckland Dean Jo Kelly-Moore was yesterday reported as telling one news website: “She was an extraordinary woman. She was generous, humorous, extremely intelligent and a fun person,” adding that Lynda had been “one of the finest preachers I have ever heard”.
Among the social media messages circulating was one from Rev Joshua Moore reading: “You taught me a huge amount about how to tell great stories my Irish sister, and how to see the lighter side of Anglican shenanigans. Will miss you hugely”.
The former Principal of Dromore Central Primary school – which Lynda had attended and where her mother Evelyn had worked – said he had received a string of phone calls about the news.
Jim Cochrane added that the Pattersons are well-known in the area, and that such a “close-knit” community as Dromore could be relied on to rally round them in the wake of such a tragedy.