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FESM celebrates another successful year

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FESM celebrates another successful year

Abilio Fonts and George Texeira prepare the cabbage for the massive feast.

JASON CAMPBELL /The Bulletin/


POSTED August 31, 2009 1:12 a.m.

Carlos Gaspar had a lot to smile about on Sunday afternoon.


As the President of the Festa de Espiritu de Santa Manteca he had already successfully gone over the books of the Portuguese organization that has been operating since 1932 – a tradition known as “contas” that draws hundreds for the after festa party that is strikingly similar to the annual festa and the celebration of the Holy Ghost that the organization is famous for.


With a wide grin, Gaspar wasted no time in thanking the Holy Ghost and the members of his organization that have been generous with their pocketbooks to keep the doors of the historic organization open.


“The faith with these people is so incredibly strong, and the Holy Ghost that we all celebrate works in ways that we’ll never be able to understand,” said Gaspar – donning a suit and wearing his Presidential ribbon that designates his position within the organization. “We’re thankful for the turnout that we have, and the support that we’ve received.”


While the season of annual festas that honor Queen Isabella – who later became a Catholic Saint because of the miracle she performed that organizations like the FESM celebrate every year – as well as the Holy Ghost are pretty much over, Sunday was still another chance for residents to get a fresh bowl of sopas made by volunteers like John Correia that have spent the last 33 years cooking up the thousands of pounds of beef necessary to make the traditional dish.


“It’s just something that my family has always done, and it’s something that we enjoy doing,” said Correia – who had his daughter Crystal working with him on Sunday. “You get the chance to work closely with the other people in the kitchen, and it’s really a great time and it’s a great event.”


The massive pots that line the back wall of the kitchen take at least 12 hours before they’re ready to serve the beef that’s cut with both cabbage and bread – poured out of the huge pots with massive ladles that help serve the masses.


It might have been some time since Queen Isabella disobeyed an order to feed the hungry in Portugal, but everyone who turned up on Sunday was offered a bowl of the traditional fare that has become a staple of Manteca’s Portuguese culture.


“It’s a chance for us to take care of our business, but it’s also a chance for us to get together with one another and enjoy a bowl of sopas and congregate,” Gaspar said. “You’re not going to find a whole lot of people here that aren’t having a good time.”


To contact Jason Campbell e-mail jcampbell@mantecabulleitn.com, or call (209) 249-3544.

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