Metro Detroit priest's invalid baptism leaves marriages, confessions in question

The validity of some parishioners’ sacraments like marriage and confession is under question after a metro Detroit priest learned his baptism was invalid earlier this month.

Father Matthew Hood learned that he was not a baptized Catholic on Aug. 6 after watching a family video of his baptism where some words were improperly changed.

“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,” Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit said in a release. ”I will take every step necessary to remedy the situation for everyone impacted.”

Church officials were reaching out to affected parishioners including from St. Anastasia in Troy and Church of the Divine Child in Dearborn, where Hood has served since 2017.

Hood was able to remedy his situation and received priestly ordination earlier this month.

 "So these baptisms were performed invalidly at St. Anastasia Parish in Troy for more than a decade," said Fr. Stephen Pullis.

Pullis, the director of evangelization and missionary discipleship for the archdiocese of Detroit, says that it means hundreds of people did not technically receive the sacrament of baptism as recognized by the catholic church. 

"This is something you read about in seminary as a hypothetical, but this is reality," Pullis said.

The mistake was one word used by a deacon from 1986 to 1999 at St. Anastasia Church - he used 'we' instead of 'i' during baptismal ceremonies.

"There is only so much we can do if the Pope and the Vatican have said this is not valid so they can't just wave a wand and make it go away," Pullis said.

Pullis says there is a trickle-down effect too, if a baptism is not valid, neither is the person's confirmation or marriage. All have to be redone, to be recognized by the church.

One of those improperly baptized was Father Michael Hood of St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Utica. He had been at Dearborn Divine Child since 2017 until July.

"Father Hood was watching home videos of his baptism during quarantine and saw himself being baptized and heard them say 'We' instead of 'I,'" Pullis said.

 Father Hood has been doing baptisms and marriage ceremonies for three years - under the false title of priest, meaning all of those ceremonies are not valid either.

 "He had to go back be baptized anew, confirmation anew, made a deacon, then priest," Pullis said.

The church working to right the mistake, tracking down anyone who's been affected and asking people to reach out to their church leaders to fix this.

But, some might not have that option.

"For anyone who has passed away or it's impossible to rectify it, we know God's grace is not limited to those who receive those sacraments," Pullis said.

The Archdiocese of Detroit has set up a form for people to fill out if you think you fall under the invalid ceremonies, CLICK HERE.