logoThe Very Reverend John Paterson.



The Very Reverend John Paterson, who died on September 9 aged 66, was Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, from 1989 to 2004 and one of the most highly regarded priests in the Church of Ireland; he was a prominent figure in the life of the city, as well as in the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough, and for some years was one of the two General Secretaries of his church's General Synod. A fine preacher, he could sometimes be outspoken. At an annual citizenship service held in the cathedral in 1998, and attended by civic dignitaries and leaders of commerce, he complained that Ireland's booming economy had been achieved at the expense of the poor, and that the country had become "richer and nastier and much less caring than when it was poorer". He went on to point out that 150 years earlier Ireland had called on the more prosperous nations of the world to open their doors to more than a million of its starving poor, "yet today we are sealing our borders to ensure that a paltry few thousand refugees are excluded". Paterson, who combined the gifts of a scholar with those of a pastor, had a warm and welcoming personality, and before becoming a Dean had exercised strong parish ministries. He also had considerable expertise in the field of liturgy, and was much involved in the revision of the Church of Ireland's Book Of Common Prayer, published last year.

John Thomas Farquhar Paterson was born in Portadown in Northern Ireland on December 21 1938. He went from Portadown College to Trinity College, Dublin, to read Hebrew and Oriental Languages and completed his training for Holy Orders at the nearby theological college. He returned to Co Armagh in 1963 to be a curate at Drumglass, and after three years went back to Dublin as curate of St Bartholomew's Church. This led to his appointment in 1968 as priest-in-charge of St Mark's Church in the city - a post which he combined with that of assistant chaplain of Trinity College. He completed a BD in 1971. He also began a 16-year association with St Patrick's - the national cathedral - as a Minor Canon, which turned to good use his knowledge of music as well as his skill in the ordering of dignified worship. This continued when, in 1972, he returned to St Bartholomew's as Vicar and also for a few years after his appointment as Dean of St Brigid's Cathedral, Kildare, in 1974. This cathedral - one of two in the diocese of Meath and Kildare - provided further scope for his liturgical interest and he also became a lecturer in Pastoral Liturgy at his old theological college. There was a cathedral parish to minister to as well, and additionally the small associated parishes of Lackagh and Kilmeague, and the Curragh Garrison Church.

Paterson's appointment as Dean of Christ Church in 1989 surprised no one, and besides his notable cathedral ministry he was incumbent of a group or parishes in the city. Cordial relations were maintained with St Patrick's Cathedral, and the two institutions combined to host a memorable conference of deans and provosts of the English, Welsh and Scottish cathedrals at which the serious business was well lubricated by Irish hospitality. Strong, collaborative relations with the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches were important to him, and he contributed articles on pastoral liturgy to the Roman Catholic journal The Furrow. Sadly, he felt driven to resign from the secretaryship of the General Synod, to which he had been elected in 1985, over the issue of women priests. The last straw for him came in 1991 when the synod, having affirmed the ministry of women priests, refused to affirm the ministry of those opposed to them. For Paterson it was a matter of principle, and he resigned to the great regret, but with the respect, of the Synod. He then took on the post of diocesan radio officer and wrote a valuable History of the Laity in the Church of Ireland (2002) to add to his Parish Education Handbook (1987) and Mary in the Church (1990). His final years at Christ Church were dogged by poor health, and in 2001, to the delight of his friends, he married Patricia Bray, who survives him with two stepsons.