Please leave me space in your journal for the publication of this tribute to Reverend P. Derek H. Goodrich, MA (University of Canterbury), AA
Derek H. Goodrich, 1927-2021. A lifespan of 94 years, with a remarkable and exceptional career as a pastor, who in his words “had accumulated many other jobs”. These jobs included the Canon of St. George’s Cathedral, the Examining of Chaplin, the Rural Dean, the Dean of Georgetown, and the Vicar General. Nestled in these ninety-four years is the ten-year period from 1957 to 1967; the period when the Rev. Goodrich was the first resident vicar of St. Sidwell Church, Lodge, Georgetown. It is this period of Father Goodrich’s life, and the good memories I have of him, that I would like to recall as a farewell tribute to this man who described himself as “fundamentally a priest”.
I met Fr. Goodrich, as he was affectionately called by most parishioners, in my teenage formative years. As a young member of the congregation, a few of my friends were servants or altar boys; which fueled my desire to be a waiter. Victor Jones, Ulric Lyte, Cargill Alleyne and Lennox Wharton were notable and admired examples. As altar boys, we were trained to participate in a ritual that demanded precision, order and punctuality. As we prepared to move towards the altar, we looked at Fr. Goodrich, eyes on his watch and not a second before, but about to signal us to emerge to the accents of the processional hymn. From this training, I developed a lifelong adherence to punctuality.
As a young man, I found Fr. Goodrich was not only a priest who gave holy sermons to his congregation, but a caring person, a confidant, a counselor, a good administrator, a sports enthusiast / organizer. and a teacher. For example, the continued absence of a church member was noticed and duly addressed. Often times, I have witnessed Fr. Goodrich on his bicycle visiting parishioners in the Lodge neighborhood to determine the reason for their absence. Bro. Goodrich was always accessible. He was a good listener. You could share any personal issues with him. He always listened, never judged or criticized. Instead, he sought to resolve any conflict that ensued, especially marital disputes, with a favorable resolution.
Bro. Goodrich was passionate about sports. He encouraged us, as young boys in the church, to get involved in sports such as cricket, table tennis and soccer. I was fortunate enough to become a member of St. Sidwell’s Rovers Club: a football team made up of altar boys and altar boys. The open space of the then “hippodrome” was used for football training and competition. Some of the original members of this club, namely Barley Jones and Bayard Boyce, have gone on to become national players. Bro. Goodrich himself was a good table tennis player: left-handed and hard to beat. He loves cricket and was a member of the Georgetown Cricket Club. He never missed a test match
Bro. Goodrich was a good administrator. While he was vicar at St. Sidwell’s, he oversaw the rebuilding of the church which was destroyed by fire in July 1957, just one month after his appointment. The new church building was completed in August 1959. Concurrently, he oversaw the move of the Holy Redeemer Anglican Church from a site along the Demerara River to its present site at West Ruimveldt. Such accomplishments have led him to work with many collaborators, including church members, entrepreneurs, etc. and, more importantly, to raise funds for the completion of these tasks. All of this was done while Fr. Goodrich ministered to two âhomelessâ congregations. As noted in his Memoirs of St. Sidwell Parish, 1957-1967 ââ¦ having been appointed responsible for two church buildings, we have none now.
He played a major role in establishing the Church of the Transfiguration northeast of Penance and later St. Aloysius Chapel, at Penny Lane, South Ruimveldt. My observation of Fr. Goodrich’s administrative capacities are supported by his own account of an occasion when he visited with four church members the 750 houses of East Ruimveldt to gather information on the religious affiliation of the occupants of these residential homes. Truly exceptional !! I also remember Fr. Goodrich as a teacher. He has found time in his busy schedule of ministry with his communicants to meet the educational needs of school-aged church members, especially those attending high schools. He would bring them together in the sacristy where he would help them understand some of the more difficult aspects of their schoolwork.
My contact with Fr. Goodrich was not separated by his departure from St. Sidwell’s Church in 1967. I occasionally informed him of events in my life. This casual contact continued even after his return to the UK. In fact, no later than August 2021, I received word from him through an intermediary. I was really saddened by the news of his passing. In the opening pages of The Words and Works of Alan John Knight, the author is described as “… essentially a parish priest … he has been a Guyanese citizen for over thirty years and has received a national award, the FlÃ¨che gold of accomplishment for long, dedicated and exceptional service in the field of religion. ‘ The author was Derek Goodrich. I completely agree with this description of the priest I knew as Fr. Goodrich.
I end this tribute with the words of someone whom I have admired, respected and loved from my teenage years to adulthood, Fr. Goodrich’s own words of sentiment: âMy ten years at St. Sidwell have represented the most exciting years of my ministryâ¦ I have happy memories of all those, young and old, who have supported me with their prayers, friendship and cooperationâ¦ may the current congregation value its heritage and continue to work for the extension of the Kingdom of God. May we all at this time find comfort and be inspired by his words and works. Farewell dear parish priest, friend, teacher. Rest in peace.