And once again, the one performing the invalid baptism was a deacon.
In the second known instance in the United States, a man who believed himself to be a validly baptized Catholic and ordained priest had to “re-receive” all of his sacraments, including ordination, after discovering that his baptism was invalid.
Fr. Zachary Boazman, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, thought he was validly ordained in 2019. But in August, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a doctrinal note, reminding Catholics that baptisms are not valid if the minister of the baptism changed the words, or formula, of the baptism from “I baptize you” to “We baptize you.”
Boazman, who was baptized in another diocese in 1992, reviewed a videotape of his baptism after the announcement from the Vatican and discovered that the deacon ministering his baptism had used the invalid “We baptize you.”
A Sept. 14 letter sent to priests, deacons and staff of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, and shared with CNA, said Boazman was “immediately contacted Archbishop Paul Coakley to explain the situation and seek guidance” after his discovery.
Because Boazman’s baptism had not been valid, the subsequent sacraments he received – reconciliation, Holy Communion, confirmation, ordination – were therefore also not valid. His invalid baptism also invalidated many of the sacraments he offered before his valid ordination, including Masses, confessions, and some marriages. A key exception to that are the baptisms ministered by Boazman, as baptisms can be validly performed by anyone using the correct formula (wording) and the right intention.
Within days of Boazman’s discovery, he was validly baptized Catholic and validly ordained as a priest…
…The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City noted that Coakley sanated, or validated, the marriages witnessed by Boazman prior to his valid ordination last week. Boazman had not celebrated any confirmations prior to his valid ordination.
The full statement from the Diocese of Oklahoma City:
Earlier this year, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an important doctrinal note alerting the Catholic Church throughout the world that baptisms were not valid if the spoken baptismal formula was changed. Specifically, to say “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” does not confer the sacrament of baptism. Rather, the minister of baptism must say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The congregation pointed to the Second Vatican Council, which established that no one “even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”
In learning about the congregation’s decision, Father Zachary Boazman, a recently ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, reviewed a family recording of his infant baptism in 1992 in the Diocese of Fort Worth and realized the wrong word had been used by the deacon, changing the words (formula) of baptism to “We baptize” as opposed to “I baptize.”
Father Boazman, a graduate of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver and associate pastor at Saint Mary Catholic Church in Ponca City, immediately contacted Archbishop Paul Coakley to explain the situation and seek guidance.
According to sacramental theology and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, only a baptized Catholic can validly receive the other sacraments, since baptism is the means by which a person enters the Church and is incorporated into the body of Christ. It also means he had not been validly ordained as a priest.
To rectify the issue, Father Boazman was baptized, confirmed and received the Eucharist on Sept. 8 at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. He was ordained by Archbishop Coakley a transitional deacon and a priest on Sept. 12 also at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
Because Father Boazman’s own baptism was invalid, the Masses he celebrated, the confessions he heard and the weddings he witnessed prior to being baptized and “re-ordained” also were invalid. This past week, Archbishop Coakley sanated (validated) the marriages celebrated by Father Boazman in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Father Boazman had not celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation. Baptisms he performed were not affected, since anyone can baptize as long as they use the required wording with the proper intention.
“This has been a heart-breaking experience for Father Zak, but one that he handled with grace and patience,” Archbishop Coakley said. “I am certain this past week, as unsettling as it was, will further strengthen Father Zak’s resolve to serve God’s people and develop an even deeper appreciation for the gift of the priesthood.”
For further questions about how this may have impacted you or your family, please call (405) 721-1811.