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.”

Father Goode, who turns 86 on July 25, marks his 60th anniversary as a priest in 2020. He now lives in an assisted living facility and was unavailable for an interview, but his lifelong friend, Ellis, reflected on the priest’s nearly two decades of service at that Southern Maryland Parish.

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 also 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.

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 – said his friend fulfilled those roles as pastor and principal well at the St. Mary’s County parish and its school.

Ellis remembered how Father Goode 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.

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.

Reflecting on his friend’s six decades as a priest, 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.