Cardinal Tagle, priests baptize 400 kids from Manila slums
MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and other priests baptized 400 children from the slums of Manila on Saturday, January 14, as part of a Catholic foundation's programs for the poor.
Organizers said they want to dispel the notion that Catholics need to pay for the sacraments – which, they said, keeps the poor away from baptism.
Referring to children, Tagle said in a homily, "Huwag sanang kalilimutan, akayin sila sa kanilang kapatid na si Hesus." (Do not forget to bring them to their brother, Jesus.)
The cardinal added, "Ituro kung papa'no si Hesus tumanggap sa iba't ibang tao, lalo na sa mga hindi minamahal ng lipunan." (Teach them how Jesus accepted different people, especially those rejected by society.)
He also reminded godparents that their duty is not to give gifts, but to help parents in raising their children.
Tagle was assisted by Father Matthieu Dauchez, executive director of Tulay ng Kabataan, and 10 other priests in administering the sacrament on Saturday.
After Saturday's baptism, one of the newly baptized children, Diana Estrada, made this promise: "Maging mabuti po, at saka po makikinig sa mga magulang, tapos po makikinig sa guro namin." (To be good, and to always listen to our parents, and to listen to our teachers.)
Her sister, Hannah Estrada, said she wants to be more loving of others.
Tulay ng Kabataan, a 19-year-old nongovernmental organization, organized this mass baptism for its beneficiaries from the slums of Tondo and Baseco in Manila, as well as from Navotas.
Correcting wrong impressions
The newly baptized Catholics include a number of children from Market 3 in Navotas, where, according to ABS-CBN News, around 1,200 families lost their homes to a fire on Tuesday, January 10.
Gloria Recio, assistant executive director of Tulay ng Kabataan, said their group has organized mass baptisms in the past, but this is the biggest it has mounted so far.
Recio said the youngest to be baptized on Saturday was around two months old, while the oldest was 13 years old.
In a statement, Tulay ng Kabataan said many families wrongly believe that they cannot avail of Catholic sacraments, such as baptism, because "they often think that there is a fee."
While the group suggested that this is a wrong impression, many parishes, in fact, charge up to hundreds of pesos to have children baptized.
Tulay ng Kabataan and the Archdiocese of Manila said they aim to change this "by offering baptism to the greatest number of children."
Tulay ng Kabataan was also the home for street children visited by Pope Francis during his trip to the Philippines in January 2015. – Rappler.com