The Diocese of Kidapawan in Mindanao will baptize 500 children to mark this year’s quincentennial of the arrival of Christianity in the country.
“By this celebration of baptism we are proclaiming to everyone that the Church in Kidapawan diocese is alive,” said Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo.
He said the Sacrament of Baptism is a reminder and a challenge to everyone of their being missionaries.
“It is a way of reminding our people of our call to mission, to witness our faith to all nations,” said the prelate in an interview with Radio Veritas 846 on Tuesday, April 27.
Bishop Bagaforo said 125 children will be baptized in each of the four vicariates under his diocese that comprises 18 parishes.
The first batch of children were baptized on Monday, April 26, at the Our Lady of Mediatrix of All Grace Cathedral in Kidapawan City.
The prelate said it is just right that Filipinos show their “appreciation and thanksgiving for the gift of faith that was given and received by us” during the observance of the quincentennial of the arrival of Christianity.
The Philippines topped the list of countries with the most number of baptisms of young children.
The country recorded more than 1.6 million baptisms of children under the age of 7 at the end of 2019 based on the Statistical Yearbook of the Church.
It was followed by Mexico with over 1.48 million, Brazil with more than 1.05 million, the United States with 595,286; and Colombia with 442,396.
The yearbook provides separate statistics for the baptism of people above 7 year old.
The Philippines also ranked third in the world with the most baptized Catholics at 89 million.
Brazil topped the list with 177 million baptized Catholics and was followed by Mexico with 115.5 million.
Fourth on the list is the US with 74 million while Italy ranked fifth with 57.8 million.
The Philippines this month marks the 500th anniversary of the first Christian baptism in the country.
On April 14, 1521, Cebu chieftain Datu Humabon, and 800 of his followers were baptized Catholics.
The baptism came a week after the arrival of the Spanish expedition headed by Ferdinand Magellan on the island of Cebu.