A Dearborn priest has learned his baptism was invalid after a notice from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that baptisms using specific language were unacceptable.
Father Matthew Hood, of the Archdiocese of Detroit assigned to the Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, learned he was not a baptized Catholic on Aug. 6 after watching a family video of his baptism. He found the deacon, Deacon Mark Springer, used improper language.
In the note from the Vatican, if particular words were changed, then the baptisms were not valid — two words specifically: We and I. To say, “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” inaccurately portrays the sacrament of baptism. Instead, ministers must “allow Jesus to speak through them,” by saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
“It is the duty of the local Church to ensure that everyone entrusted into her care has the full benefit and certainty that come from the valid reception of the sacraments, which have been given to us to keep us as secure as possible on the path to heaven,” Archbishop Allen Vigneron said in a release. “On behalf of our local Church, I am deeply sorry that this human error has resulted in disruption to the sacramental lives of some members of the faithful. I will take every step necessary to remedy the situation for everyone impacted.”
For those who received sacraments like marriage and confessions from Hood, pastors will be directing an outreach to find solutions to any situations that may have been affected. Affected parishes include St. Anastasia, where Springer was assigned, and the Church of the Divine Child, where Hood has served since 2017.
Baptisms performed by Hood are valid, however, as baptisms can be performed by anyone, not just priests. Those who received baptisms from him do not have to seek remediation from other priests.
“One of my first concerns when I found out was about everyone this affects. As a priest, I want to be able to reach out to them and tell them this is something that’s very strange and probably painful, but I’ve gone through this as well, and I want to help you to remediate this problem so we can be certain you’ve received the grace of the sacraments,” Hood said in a release. “It’s a grace to realize that God is not a liar. Any experience of the sacraments, even if they were celebrated invalidly, God was still present, and God still honors that. God doesn’t repent of our desire for Him and this call that He’s given to us to follow Him and be faithful to Him.”
Hood contacted the Archdiocese after realizing his baptism was invalid and was able to fix his situation. He received valid Sacraments of Christian Initiation, spent time on retreat, then he received the Sacraments of Holy Orders. Hood was then ordained a transitional deacon before receiving priestly ordination Monday evening.
If you believe your sacraments have been affected and would like to speak with a priest, click here to fill out a form on the Archdiocese of Detroit website.