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Double tragedy in Leeds parish

25 July 2014

iSTOCK

Sad path: a part of the limestone pavement formation at Malham Cove 

Sad path: a part of the limestone pavement formation at Malham Cove 

A CHURCH community was in shock this week over the death of its associate priest and the suicide of her husband.

The body of the Revd Louise Lancaster, aged 67, was found by police late on Thursday of last week at her home in the Roundhay district of Leeds, after a tip-off, believed to have come from her husband, Roy.

Officers immediately launched a search for Mr Lancaster, aged 54, saying that they feared for his safety.

In the early hours of the next day, his body was found 40 miles away at the foot of Malham Cove - a popular beauty spot in the Yorkshire Dales formed by a 260-foot-high curved cliff. Soon afterwards, detectives announced that they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

Mrs Lancaster, who had two daughters and three grandchildren, had been a non-stipendiary priest at St Edmund's, Roundhay, for 12 years.

On Tuesday, the Vicar of St Edmund's, the Revd David Paton-Williams, spoke of the congregation's "great sadness" at the double tragedy.

He said: "The community is staggered by these events. We know these things happen, but you never expect it is going to be your turn."

He described Mrs Lancaster as a "very prayerful" person, who was an oblate of the Community of the Love of God at the Convent of the Incarnation at Fairacres in Oxford, and had lived for several months as an anchoress in her own home.

"She had this deep sense of calling, and was also very pastoral," he said. "When I spoke to the people she took home communion to, they just spoke so warmly about her."

She had also studied archaeology and had served as the diocesan archaeological adviser. "She had a great love of stained glass, and was always on at us about caring for ours properly," Mr Paton-Williams said.

Her husband had been a server at St Edmund's, and was part of the healing ministry team.

Mrs Lancaster's two daughters, one who lives in southern England and the other in New Zealand, have been told of the deaths.

The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, said: "I am deeply saddened to learn about the deaths of Roy and Louise Lancaster. This is clearly a terrible tragedy, and their family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers."

The Mother Superior of of the Convent of the Incarnation, Revd Mother Margaret Theresa SLG, expressed the community's sadness.

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