Goodman

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

March 30, 2003

 

            Bill Goodman has gone to the Lord.

            That might sound like a euphemistic way to refer to death, but in Bill Goodman's case it is really the accurate way. He struggled with liver cancer for a bit more than a year, but really he had been preparing for that final passage all his life.

            Every parish, hopefully, has one or more Bill Goodmans. They are the people who keep the church alive.

            Twenty-eight years ago Bill retired from his job at the Veterans Administration. He said, "I retired from the government to do the Lord's work."

            For twenty-eight years, together with his wife Mary Claire, he attended daily mass. They began the rosary as their car left the driveway of their tiny cottage on the Chesapeake Bay. They unlocked the church. They set up for mass. For all 28 years he served mass. Still genuflecting even when the cancer medication made him unsteady on his feet.

            After mass, Bill would fill his giant pix with the Eucharist and set out to visit the sick in their homes. As many as 20 people per week. Every Friday he would make the rounds at the local hospital, pausing to pray with anyone who would pause to pray with him.

            Each Monday morning Bill and Mary Claire would meet four or five other people to count our collection. They paused for cocoa at 10:30 AM sharp.  For more than twenty years we never missed a dime.

            On Saturday evening or Sunday morning Bill would be one of the lectors. He became a lector and Eucharistic Minister immediately after Vatican II, as soon as lay people were permitted to take on those ministries.

            For 57 years he has an active member of the Knights of Columbus. He helped form two councils and personally recruited more than 200 men to join the Knights. On Saturdays he was always at some stadium working the refreshment stands to raise money for the Knights charities.

            Bill and Mary Claire had a prayer list that didn't end. Everything in their life was brought to prayer. Bill even prayed when doing the dishes, giving each plate three wipes, for Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

            His life was given to prayer. If he ran out of gas in his boat on the Bay, he prayed, "Oh Lord, send someone to bring us gas if it be Thy will." Soon enough someone would come along. Bill would call out "God bless you neighbor, do you have some gas for me." People did not say no to Bill Goodman.

            God did not often say no to Bill Goodman either. Bill prayed for a crisis pregnancy center in the parish, we got one. He prayed for a Catholic cemetery in our parish, we got one. He prayed for a new church, we got one. Finally, he started praying for a parish high school.  I told him to stop before he killed me with work.

            Bill's life had its share of challenges and sorrows. Any father of five knows difficulty and defeat. In addition to his government job, he had worked as a door-to-door insurance salesman, so he knew his share of rejection. But, he was always joyful. He always said, "Every no is one closer to a YES."

            His ordinary lay life was as consecrated at any monk or nun. Bill and Mary Claire proved you could be married and contemplatives at the same time.

            I pray that every parish has its Bill Goodman. He was what his name said he was, a "good man." He was also a good friend. I am going to miss him.