Baptized, confirmed, and ordained in two weeks: My interview with Fr. Matt Hood

For a man who had just been baptized, confirmed, ordained and catapulted into the headlines in the space of two weeks, the Rev. Matt Hood of St. Lawrence Parish in Utica, Mich., sounded remarkably relaxed. I caught the 30-year-old priest on the phone while he and his father drove to Minnesota, where they were going to pick up a puppy named Sherman.

Father Hood’s story is no shaggy dog tale, though. It was only a few weeks ago that he discovered by chance that his baptism in 1990 was not valid, and therefore neither was his ordination in 2017 nor were many of the sacraments he presided over in the past three years, when he thought he was a priest but was not.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit issued a letter on Aug. 22 informing his flock that in light of a recent statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Father Hood’s baptism and ordination had been invalid because the presiding deacon at his baptism in infancy had said, “We baptize you” rather than “I baptize you.” Once that was discovered, the archbishop explained, Father Hood had been properly baptized, confirmed and then ordained as a deacon and a priest.

Father Hood’s situation has been remedied, but the revelation of his invalid baptism and speculation about what that means for all the people he interacted with as a priest, are still rippling outward. This record of our conversation, which continued over Facebook, has been shortened and lightly edited.

Read the rest of my interview with Fr. Matt Hood in America Magazine.

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6 thoughts on “Baptized, confirmed, and ordained in two weeks: My interview with Fr. Matt Hood”

  1. This one really got to me for some reason. I fully understand why form is important and am not arguing that the words should be allowed to be changed willy nilly. What I specifically cannot understand is the choice to not “grandfather in” these Baptisms. If it were up for debate enough that clarification had to be issued, it seems wrong to not make this a “going forward” situation. I wish the Vatican had explained this thought process in their document, but they didn’t really address it or potential consequences at all. In essence, by their decision, the Vatican invalidated those baptisms. That bothers me.

    What if we found a Bishop or Archbishop had an invalid baptism 40-50 years ago? It’s not improbable that it may happen in the future. You could invalidate the sacramental life and priesthood of an entire Diocese in one fell swoop and never be able to rectify the fallout out of sheer impossibility.

    I can only think that if I as a married woman had the Diocese call me up and tell me that my marriage was invalid (4 kids in!) and we needed to convalidate because of this (implying that we live as brother & sister until then)…wow. I cant imagine the heartache and issues. It would feel the opposite of pastoral.

    I have a daughter about to receive her First Communion. What if I had to tell her a few weeks later that “whoops” she didn’t actually because “insert this story here” and we needed to redo it. She would be beyond confused and I cant help but think it would rock the blooming faith we are trying to grow.

    1. For what it’s worth, your daughter wouldn’t have to repeat her First Communion. Whatever the first valid Eucharist she received would just be her first. And I believe they have multiple bishops lay hands on new priests/bishops at ordinations, so even if one “bishop” turned out not to be validly ordained, the priests he “ordained” would still be legit, because someone else actually ordained them. (You would have to follow up on alleged confirmations, but that faculty can be delegated to pastors so it could be done individually with relatively little hassle compared to re-gathering the whole class.)

  2. Like so many things that bother me these days, I’m choosing not to give this incident a ton of thought or reflection. My initial gut reaction, though, is this whole thing is really dumb. At some point prior to this priest’s first ordination wouldn’t a “baptism of desire” have kicked in? Is God really keeping people out of Heaven because of the words of some hippy dippy deacon thirty years ago? Are all the sacraments this priest administered actually invalid? And if that is indeed the case, how can we be really sure of apostolic succession, which requires putting an awful lot of faith in very fallible men having spoken the precisely correct words for 2000 years.

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