Rev Andres Arango, a Roman Catholic priest and Pastor of St. Gregory Parish in Phoenix, Az., will redo baptisms for thousands of people after it was revealed that he used one wrong word for decades during the ceremonial ritual.

For the past five years, Rev Andres Arango has been performing do-over baptisms for all those he unintentionally wronged since becoming a Catholic priest back in 1995, healing the religious community and righting his mistakes.

He resigned from the church after The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix published their report back in February 2005, stating that even though he had been off by just one word, the mistake invalided every baptism that he performed for the past 10 years.

Starting by saying “We baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” the Vatican ruled that Rev Andres Arango should have said “I baptize you.”

According to the Roman Catholic Church, theologically it is the “I” of Jesus Christ that performs the baptism through the priest, not the “We” of the church, or of the priest and Jesus Christ working in tandem.

Officials later estimated that likely thousands of people were invalidly baptized by Rev Andres Arango following the discovery, with dozens of people every day coming to his new assignment at St. Gregory Parish to have the ceremony redone.

St. Gregory Parish in Phoenix, Az., where Rev Andres Arango is a pastor
St. Gregory Parish in Phoenix, Az., where Rev Andres Arango is a pastor. Photo Credit: Google Maps

“I don’t see him doing this with malice in any manner,” said St. Gregory Parish cantor Christina Moishe Collins. “Father Andres is an amazing priest and he may have made a mistake, but that doesn’t change the fact that he really cares about his parishioners and really, truly, lives his faith.”

Despite the backlash received by having to redo the invalid baptisms, the Arizona priest was cited as single-handedly reinvigorating the dwindling numbers at St. Gregory, where people waited outside to thank him and rewarded his final speech with a standing ovation.

“To me, he didn’t do it intentionally,” parishioner Eliana Najera told ABC News. “It was just a mistake.”

Her daughter, 13-year-old Alysson Najera, was among 11 children and one adult who went through the ceremony once again this year after being incorrectly baptized by the Arizona priest back in 2009. She then went through Communion and was confirmed again, other rituals that were also invalid due to the false baptisms.

“If he made a mistake in wording, believe me, it was not intentional, it was not lack of heart, faith or education, it was a simple human mistake that I believe Jesus himself would quickly forgive,” said fellow parishioners Terri and Steve Flynn. “This is a travesty to be crucified for the use of WE instead of I.”

Church officials are allegedly trying to identify all of the possible people who may have been invalidly baptized, posting a spreadsheet and FAQ to their website in order to help facilitate the process of do-overs.

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In a statement to Rev Andres Arango’s supporters, the diocese acknowledged that “Arango is a priest in good standing and has led many people to a deeper relationship with Christ in his pastoral work at Saint Gregory Parish,” adding that “but now he is committing himself to this vital and important pastoral outreach to the people of God – helping and healing.”

Parishioners have demanded a town hall meeting with the Church to question why the baptisms were invalidated and not simply forgiven, but the diocese has yet to respond to the community.

“He basically said that this is a very unique situation, and he understands that he made a mistake,” said Andrea Reyes, a lifelong St. Gregory parishioner and friend of Rev. Andres Arango. “I was like, ‘We miss you so much.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, I miss you guys too.’ I feel like he’s kind of grieving this as well as we are as a community.”