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Community devastated after sudden death of popular Richhill rector

By Rachel Martin

Published 22/02/2016

Tributes have been paid to the Rev David Somerville who died yesterday
Tributes have been paid to the Rev David Somerville who died yesterday

Tributes have been paid to the Rev David Somerville who died yesterday.

The fondly-remembered preacher passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital in the early hours of the morning.

He was admitted to hospital after taking ill at home on Saturday.

The minister, thought to have been in his mid to late 50s, had been the rector of Richhill Parish in Armagh Diocese and had also formerly served in the Diocese of Dromore.

Bishop Harold Miller of the Diocese of Dromore said: "It was a great shock for everyone to hear of David's sudden death.

"David's calling was formed in the parish of Knocknamuckley in the Diocese of Dromore and he served as rector in Rathfriland and Ballyward."

He added: "David was dearly loved and his ministry greatly valued. Our prayers and sympathy are with May and Dan, and with his wider family as they hold on to the sure and certain hope of eternity in Christ at a very difficult time."

Councillor Jim Speers from Richhill said he had come to know the minister as a friend and described him as "very engaging", "outgoing" and a "lovely, mild-mannered gentleman".

He said the Reverend had engaged with many community groups in the area and added that his sudden death was a "great loss" to people of Richhill.

Councillor Speers said: "He was very approachable and well read; you could have spoken to him about any topic. He had built up over time a great affinity with the community here. The community here is devastated, it's a tragedy."

Rev Somerville was installed as the rector of Richhill in 2013 and was a former pupil of Lurgan College.

He trained at Stranmillis before working as a teacher for 17 years, until, at the age of 38, he was called into a life in ministry.

After a further three years of training at Stranmillis he took up his first post as a curate at Christ Church in Lisburn.

Before moving to Richhill he was at Rathfriland and Ballyward.

He was installed as rector of St Matthew's Parish Church in September 2013, at a ceremony attended by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, and the Dean of Armagh, the Very Rev Gregory Dunstan.

Rev Somerville is survived by his wife May, eight-year-old son Dan, his adult son and daughter Ian and Sarah, daughter-in law Jill, son-in-law Craig, grandson Josh, his mother Jean and brother Peter.

A statement issued online by the Diocese of Armagh asked parishioners to also remember the wider family circle in their prayers over the coming days. The funeral service will be held today at 1pm in St Matthew's Church, Richhill.

Belfast Telegraph

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