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Invalid baptism of Dearborn priest results in invalid sacraments

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit earlier this month learned his baptism, performed 30 years ago, was invalid and that sacraments he has performed for others such as marriage and confession are invalid.

The Rev. Matthew Hood, who since July has served as associate pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Utica and at Divine Child in Dearborn since 2017, learned he was invalidly baptized as an infant by Deacon Mark Springer, who improperly used “We baptize" rather than "I baptize" to confer the sacrament from 1986 to 1999, a statement from the archdiocese said.

The Rev. Matthew Hood

An invalid baptism means Hood, a graduate of Sacred Heart Major Seminary who sought ordination to the priesthood 2017, was invalidly ordained to the priesthood and limited in his ability to celebrate valid sacraments during the past three years, the archdiocese said.

"The note from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith alerted the Church throughout the world that baptisms were not valid in which a particular word or words were changed," the archdiocese said in a statement.

"To say 'We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' does not convey the sacrament of baptism. Rather, ministers must allow Jesus to speak through them and say, 'I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.'

The archdiocese is seeking to contact anyone who may have received invalid sacraments.

“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.

"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,” Vigneron said.

Earlier this month, Hood received valid sacraments —  baptism, Holy Eucharist and confirmation — and after spending time on retreat, he received the sacraments of Holy Orders, being ordained a transitional deacon and then receiving priestly ordination on Aug. 17.

“One of my first concerns when I found out was about everyone this affects," Hood said. "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."

jchambers@detroitnews.com