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Like in Arizona, Botched Baptisms Roiled Michigan Church

That sent people at St. Anastasia scrambling to find videos of their children’s baptism, the official entry into the church and a gateway sacrament to other Catholic rites, such as Holy Communion and even marriage.

About 200 baptisms were found to be valid, while 71 people stepped forward to go through baptism and other initiation sacraments again, archdiocese spokeswoman Holly Fournier told The Associated Press.

Another 47 people are making new arrangements, she added, but 455 still have not responded. Ten declined to participate.

“We reached out directly, mailing letters to everyone impacted using the most recent records we had on each individual. … We’re eager to accompany anyone who comes forward,” Fournier said.

She declined to make clergy available for interviews to discuss why they believe so many people haven’t responded over the past 18 months.

During the meeting at St. Anastasia in 2020, Monsignor Ronald Browne, a church lawyer, revealed that officials in 1999 learned that Springer was using “we baptize” and ordered him to stop. But experts who were consulted at the time also said his earlier baptisms still were OK.

Then nothing happened for two decades — until Hood asked questions about what he had heard in his boyhood baptism video, and the Vatican separately declared that “we baptize” voids the sacrament, Browne said.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Springer could not be found for comment.

The consequences for Hood went beyond his own baptism and other sacraments, including priestly ordination. He had officiated at roughly 30 marriages during his initial three years as a priest. Those couples had to make their vows again.

“I was expecting them to be angry, upset, confused,” Hood said. “Their reaction was ‘Father Matt, we feel so bad for you.’”

Hood, 31, currently serves Catholic college students, especially around Wayne State University in Detroit. They are around the same age as many of the young people who haven’t reached out to the church about being baptized a second time.

“The sacraments are the mystery of God crashing into our lives,” Hood said. “It isn’t just a checklist that you need to make in a Christian life. It’s something that changes us completely.”

He said Pope Francis has likened the Catholic Church to a “field hospital” serving people at all stages of their faith.

“We’re aware there are young people who no longer practice the faith. This problem has opened that up,” Hood said of the botched baptisms. “But for some individuals, it has been the opportunity to say I haven’t taken my faith seriously and this is an opportunity to do that, to realize something real is at play here.”

This post originally appeared on APNews.com.