Father William F. Goode Jr. – a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who marked his 60th anniversary in 2020 and over the years was a pastor and principal in Southern Maryland and served in other parishes across the area – died Nov. 20 at the age of 86. In recent years, he had been a resident of Marian Assisted Living in Brookeville, Maryland.

After his death, people who knew Father Goode praised him as a man who reflected his name – a good man, a good priest and a good friend.

“He was a faithful man who lived his priesthood to the fullest. He was dedicated to God’s people. He served God faithfully, and he loved his people,” said Father Joseph Calis, the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Father Calis remembered how, as he stood next to him at the altar, he saw the reverent way that Father Goode continued to celebrate Mass in his later years as his health declined.

“He loved to celebrate the Eucharist. The Eucharist was the center of his life,” Father Calis said.

Then-Washington Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fisher, who was named by Pope Francis on Dec. 1 to be the new bishop of Buffalo, celebrated the Funeral Mass for Father Goode on Nov. 25 at Ascension Church in Bowie, and interment followed at the cemetery at Sacred Heart Parish in Bushwood, Maryland, where the priest had served as pastor for nearly two decades.

A native of Washington, D.C., Father Goode entered the seminary after graduating from Gonzaga High School, attending St. Charles Seminary in Catonsville, Maryland, and St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore before being ordained to the priesthood in May 1960 by then-Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

Father Goode’s first assignment after ordination was as a parochial vicar at Holy Redeemer in Kensington, Maryland from 1960-67. Then over the next decade, he served in that role at Christ the King Parish in Silver Spring, followed by appointments to St. Raphael in Rockville, St. Stephen Martyr in Washington and St. Pius X in Bowie.

Appointed as the new pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Bushwood in 1976 – the year of the nation’s bicentennial – Father Goode served there through 1994, and from 1977 to 1994, he performed a rare double duty there, also serving as the principal of Holy Angels-Sacred Heart School in Avenue, which the parish co-sponsored with nearby Holy Angels Parish.

When Joseph Ellis heard that his longtime parish, Sacred Heart in Bushwood, Maryland, would finally be getting a new pastor in 1976, he said, “Good!”

Then he asked what was the name of the new pastor.

Father William Goode, he was told. Like it says in the book of Genesis, he saw that it was Good(e). And for Ellis, that was good news, because he grew up with Father Goode and knew him well.

“Father Goode and I were chums back in grade school,” he said. “We were together as altar boys at Holy Comforter Parish (in Washington, D.C.) and we went to Gonzaga together. He graduated in 1952, and I graduated in 1954.”

Joseph Ellis – a native Washingtonian who has been a parishioner at Sacred Heart for 50 years and is retired after a business career working in insurance and banking –was interviewed earlier in 2020 for an article about Father Goode’s 60th anniversary. He remembered  how the future priest had been an honor roll student at Gonzaga, and then when Ellis sent his namesake son, Joe, to Holy Angels-Sacred Heart School, he saw the good work his longtime friend did as principal there.

“He (Father Goode) loved being a tutor, a mentor (and) a principal,” he said. “His personality was perfect for it. He admired the children, and they admired him.”

Sacred Heart Church, founded in 1755, has been nicknamed “the cathedral in the pines,” and it is known for its generations of devout families who have passed on the faith there to their children. Ellis, who remembered how seriously Father Goode took his altar serving duties during their childhood, especially when leading other altar servers on Holy Week, Easter and Christmas, saw those same qualities when his friend served as pastor at Sacred Heart Church.

“His being ordained was an extension to how I knew him growing up, his reverence toward the Mass and sacraments,” Ellis said, also remembering the priest’s “outstanding homilies” there.

Father Goode was right at home leading the country parish, said Ellis, who noted that the priest’s parents were from Southern Maryland and he had hoped to lead a parish there someday.

Sacred Heart Parish is also known for its dinners which raise funds for the parish’s operation. Parishioners pitch in together for days to prepare those fundraising meals, which in the summer typically include crab, country ham, fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, green beans and beets. Ellis said that Father Goode was typically very attentive to the preparation of those meals, giving the parish volunteers encouragement.

“He loved it here,” Ellis said of Father Goode’s stint as a country pastor in Bushwood.

Margaret Williams, who served as Father Goode’s parish secretary while he was the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bushwood, Maryland from 1976 to 1994, sent the following tribute about the priest to the Catholic Standard in honor of his 60th anniversary in 2020:

 “I worked with Father Goode for 18 years as parish secretary. He was well organized and laid out his schedule for the week every Monday morning. He was a very religious priest dedicated to the Lord’s work. It showed by the way he managed our parish and school. Father was the principal of our parish school for a number of years without salary. Father played ball with the children and pitched and umpired for both sides during lunch recess. He met the children each morning as the buses arrived and led them with the Pledge of Allegiance and opening prayers. Father led the children with good example, love and discipline, and (taught them) that the only way to do things was the right way.”

Williams wrote that Father Goode demonstrated to his parishioners at Sacred Heart “the true meaning of discipline, love and faithfulness” to God.  

After leading Sacred Heart Parish, Father Goode was named pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in Indian Head, Maryland from 1994 until 2006. Then he served as a senior priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Clinton from 2006-07. He retired in 2007, and was in residence and assisted at Ascension Parish in Bowie.

Father William Goode (Archdiocese of Washington photo)

Gene Boteler, who read one of the Scripture readings at Father Goode’s Funeral Mass, first met him when he was a seventh grader and altar server at Holy Redeemer Parish in Kensington, where the priest had been assigned right after his ordination in 1960.

“I knew him as an altar boy, and he was a rookie priest,” he said, adding that Father Goode “was a good mentor.”

Fifty years later, the two became reacquainted when Boteler, a longtime high school teacher who is now retired, was attending Mass at the Divine Mercy Chapel in Brookeville and the priest was in residence at the assisted living facility there, and they renewed their friendship. They visited weekly since then, with their contact interrupted by the COVID-19 safety restrictions. In recent years, Boteler was able to help the priest with things like driving him to dental appointments and to lunches for retired priests.

“I said to him, ‘You did so much for me, now it’s my turn to do some things for you,’” Boteler said.

He noted that after Father Goode’s Funeral Mass and the long drive to Southern Maryland, to the cemetery at Sacred Heart in Bushwood, he was moved to see people standing and waiting at the cemetery to honor their former pastor.

“It was like out of a movie,” Boteler said, adding, “He made a difference.”

Harry Givens, another longtime friend of Father Goode, first met the priest when he was assigned as a parochial vicar at St. Pius X in Bowie in 1972, and Givens, his wife Rosemarie and their family had moved there.

“My two sons were altar servers with him. He was a hiker and would take the altar servers on day hikes to Shenandoah (National Park),” Givens said.

Givens – who is retired after heading labor relations at the Department of the Interior for many years -- noted that Father Goode celebrated a Mass to mark the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary in 2010, the same year that the priest marked his golden anniversary.

“He was a good homilist and teacher, a great confessor and a good friend,” Givens said, noting that they golfed together weekly for the past 15 years. He said Father Goode once got a hole-in-one while playing golf alone one day, which was verified by the three people playing ahead of him. “He was very proud of that!”

In mid-October, Harry Givens visited Father Goode one last time at Marian Assisted Living. Due to coronavirus safety measures, they met outside, separated by a glass partition.

“When I left, I put my hand up against the glass, and he did the same,” Givens said.

Reflecting on Father Goode’s six decades as a priest, Joseph Ellis remembered what the priest would tell him after granting him absolution in Confession: “Keep up the good work and try to have a positive influence on the lives around you.”

“I think that sums up his ministry,” Ellis said.