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Fish-dinner season under way as first day of Lent draws near

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POSTED February 5, 2013 12:45 a.m.

Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is less than two weeks away, which means it’s fish-fry season.

That’s as far as the two of the most popular annual fish-dining events in Manteca, now busy lining up their dinner-ducks in a row, are concerned.

First off is MRPS Hall’s annual fish dinner that is perennially held on Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on Feb. 13, the eve of Valentine’s Day. Dinner will be served from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at the hall located at 133 N. Grant St., the first block north of East Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca. On the menu, in addition to the fish, will be potatoes, green beans, salad, bread and dessert. Take-out orders will be available. Cost is $13 each for adults, and $7 for children age 12 and under. For ticket reservations, call (209) 823-6560, (209) 823-3963, or Fagundes Meats at (209) 239-4184.

Two days later, on Friday, Feb. 15, the Knights of Columbus and YMI (Young Men’s Institute) of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church will hold the first of three fish dinners that they are sponsoring during the 40 days of Lent. The other two events are scheduled for the Fridays on March 1 and March 15. All three dinners will take place in the church cafeteria from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m. or until all the food is sold out. Sit-down dinners will be available; however, take-outs also will be available. Cost is $12.50 each for adults and $6 for children. Take-outs may be ordered starting at 4:30 p.m. In-house dining will start at 5 p.m.

On the menu will be either baked or deep-fried cod, potatoes, cole slaw, bread, and green beans. The cole slaw is prepared by a 90-year-old member of the YMI using his own secret recipe, said Knights of Columbus member Joe Gomes. The green beans is courtesy of YMI member John Perez.

“He specializes in the green beans,” Gomes said.

As for tickets to the fish dinners, Gomes said they are trying out a new strategy this year. There will be no advance tickets sold. People need only show up and pay at the door, he said.

“We’ve been doing this for the last 15 years, and the last couple of years, people haven’t been buying tickets. They just show up,” Gomes said.

Average attendance is a little over 200 the first day of the fish dinners, and around 180 on the two subsequent Fridays, he said.

The Knights of Columbus and the YMI are two independent fraternity organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church. Gomes said there was a time when the two groups were deemed in competition with each other. But 15 years ago, a YMI member approached a Knights of Columbus member and suggested that they do a joint fish-dinner fund-raiser.

“We decided to try and we’ve been doing it for 15 years,” Gomes said.

“We’ve been working together – the two groups – for quite a while,” he added. In fact, there are a few who belong to both organizations.

All proceeds are divided equally between the two groups.

“We use the money for our works of charity throughout the year. We have breakfasts where the money goes to specific causes, but this (funds from the fish dinner) is what we use if somebody needs assistance,” Gomes explained.

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