Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cardinal Tagle leads baptism of 400 children from Manila slums

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila led the baptism of some 400 children from Manila's poor districts of Tondo and Navotas on Jan. 14.
The event was initiated by the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, which has been taking care of poor children in the capital's slums since 1998.

The baptism rite, which was held at Manila Cathedral, was the foundation's fifth and the largest since 2002.

Virginia Ybanez, a teacher at the foundation, said the children who were baptized and their parents "have voluntarily submitted themselves for baptism" after catechism.

In his homily, Cardinal Tagle reminded parents to guide their children and to remind them how Jesus "cared for those who are neglected and abandoned."

He also told godparents "to help parents form the children's faith," adding that they are "not here for material gifts but for the spiritual growth of the child."

"The role of godparents is to assist parents in guiding the children," said Cardinal Tagle.

"Even if they cannot give a gift, they help parents through their prayers, good example, good attitude, and reminders to the children because that's their responsibility," he said.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Manila said the activity aims to "eradicate the impression that poverty hinders [the poor] from receiving the grace of the different sacraments given by God."

Father Matthieu Dauchez, executive director of the foundation, said families living in slums are not only exposed to danger and threats but also to lack of regular access to the sacraments.

The priest said the organization and Manila Archdiocese wanted to change that perception.

The organization has developed programs in poor communities that aim at giving slum dwellers back their "dignity."

Some of the 400 children who were baptized live in shanties razed by fire on Jan. 10.

In the past 18 years, Tulay ng Kabataan was able to send some 1,300 children living in the streets to 24 centers.

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