The Rev. Matthew Hood, who is a priest at St. Lawrence Parish in Utica, recently discovered that he wasn’t actually baptized as a baby, as he thought he had been for over 30 years. He recently took the necessary actions to rectify the situation.

The Rev. Matthew Hood, who is a priest at St. Lawrence Parish in Utica, recently discovered that he wasn’t actually baptized as a baby, as he thought he had been for over 30 years. He recently took the necessary actions to rectify the situation.

Photo provided by Holly Fournier


Utica priest, 30 years later, discovers he wasn’t baptized

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published September 4, 2020

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UTICA — A Utica priest is in awe after discovering that he wasn’t actually baptized as a baby, like he thought he had been for over 30 years.

Recently, an important doctrinal note was sent out alerting churches throughout the world that baptisms in which a particular word or words were changed were not valid.

The Rev. Matthew Hood, who is a priest at St. Lawrence Parish in Utica, had recently viewed a family video taken at the time of his baptism as an infant and realized that the celebrating deacon changed the proper words slightly during the baptism, using “We baptize” as opposed to “I baptize.”

Hood, who was ordained in 2017, was invalidly baptized as an infant by Deacon Mark Springer, who improperly used “We baptize” in his attempts to confer the sacrament from 1986 to 1999. Due to his invalid baptism, Hood was invalidly ordained to the priesthood and therefore limited in his ability to celebrate valid sacraments during the past three years.

According to the Archdiocese of Detroit, specifically saying, “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 of Detroit is releasing this information in order to contact anyone who might have received invalid sacraments.

Hood is a graduate of Sacred Heart Major Seminary and sought ordination to the priesthood in June of 2017. After hearing the news, Hood immediately contacted the archdiocese, and the proper steps were taken to remedy his situation.

He said he was concerned about how this may have affected others.

“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. 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 said.

Hood recently received valid Sacraments of Christian Initiation, and after spending time on retreat, he received the Sacraments of Holy Orders, being ordained a transitional deacon and then receiving priestly ordination on the evening of Aug. 17.

The parish and Archdiocese of Detroit are making efforts to contact those whom the deacon attempted to baptize, so that they may receive valid sacraments. The archdiocese has made the deacon’s identity known in an attempt to alert people whom the archdiocese may not have a way to contact.

The parishes where Hood has been assigned, Divine Child in Dearborn and St. Lawrence in Utica, will be working with the archdiocese to contact those who sought out the sacraments with Hood, so that each individual’s circumstance may be examined and rectified.

“That grace in their lives has been at work. This is part of continuing that and strengthening that grace,” Hood said.

The Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, archbishop of Detroit, said that the church is taking every step to try to make things right again.

“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. This commitment is, in part, why I write to you today, with the hope that you may assist me in identifying those in need of the sacraments,” said Vigneron.

He said he is asking the community to come together to make things right and forgive the church and Hood for the unfortunate error that occurred.

“I ask that you join me in praying for Father Hood, Deacon Springer, members of the faithful directly impacted by this situation and for the entire Catholic community of southeast Michigan. In the words of St. Paul to the Philippians: ‘Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’”

The Archdiocese of Detroit has released a form at www.aod.org/sacramentsupdate that people with concerns can fill out in order to request a call from a priest.

For more information, visit www.aod.org.

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