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Catholics observe Holy Thursday
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Father Alvaro Lopez kisses the foot of a parishioner after washing her feet during Holy Thursday services at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca. Assisting him is Deacon Jeff Vierra. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
A Living Stations of the Cross at noon and the veneration of the cross at 1 p.m. are the focal points of today’s observance at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church of Good Friday commemorating the death of Jesus on the cross.

Today’s solemn occasion follows the profound observance of Holy Thursday of the previous evening. It was a service steeped in tradition, celebrating the institution by Christ himself of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, and the traditional washing of the feet with the priests following the example of Jesus when he washed the feet of his apostles. Twelve parishioners were selected for this symbolic ritual, with Father Pat Walker, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, and parochial vicar Father Alvaro Lopez washing their feet. They were assisted by parochial vicar Father Dante Dammay and Deacon Jeff Vierra.

The evening service started with the presentation of the oils which was blessed earlier in the evening by Bishop Stephen Blaire during the Chrism Mass held at the cathedral in Stockton. At this Chrism Mass, the bishop blessed the Oil of Chrism used for baptism and confirmation.

Holy Thursday’s service concluded with Father Walker carrying the Body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in a solemn procession to the Altar of Repose where it will remain “entombed” until the communion service that will be part of Good Friday services today. There will be no Mass celebrated again in the church until Saturday evening when the resurrection of Jesus is proclaimed at the Easter Vigil service which will begin at 8 p.m.

In addition to the noon Good Friday services, another service in Spanish will be held in the church starting at 7 p.m.

Good Friday is a day of strict fasting and abstinence from meat for Catholics 14 years and older.