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YLI hosting event honoring nuns at St. Anthony of Padua
Sister Ann Venita Britto, left, and Sister Kathleen Garcia, second from left, are pictured with Sylvia Ranjel, right, president of the Young Ladies Institute of St. Anthony of Padua, and former YLI president Joan Cannon. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

The two nuns serving St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church will be the guests of honor at a luncheon hosted by the Manteca chapter of the Young Ladies Institute.

The get-together, called Sisterly Love Appreciation Luncheon, will be held Saturday, Oct. 25, at 12:30 p.m. in the church cafeteria.

“We always do this (appreciation dinner) for priests. What about the nuns? We never thought about it, so it’s about time,” explained Sylvia Ranjel, the current president of YLI #126 at St. Anthony’s.

One of her goals as president of the Manteca chapter of YLI is to “keep doing (the appreciation luncheon) every year” for the sisters serving the parish. “They do a lot of work,” Ranjel said.

Known simply as Sister Ann, Britto is in charge of the parish’s Pastoral Care and Senior Ministry. Visiting the sick, the aged, the homebound, and those who are in care homes is just a small part of what she does. But what has made her name a buzzword particularly among the seniors in Manteca and surrounding areas is the luncheon party that she throws for them to celebrate the major holidays of the year such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and the feast of St. Anthony of Padua which earned her the nickname, “the Party Sister.”

Sister Ann, who was a teacher and principal for many years in various Catholic schools including St. Bernadette’s in Tracy and St. George’s in Stockton, is a 49-year member of the Daughters of the Cross of Belgium.

Sister Kathleen Garcia is the coordinator of Religious Formation for the parish. Born in Oakland, she has been a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family whose Motherhouse is located in Fremont. The religious order, founded in San Francisco in 1872, is currently headed by Sister Gladys Guenther who shepherded Our Lady of Guadalupe mission church in Lathrop for many years before it officially became a parish of the Diocese of Stockton. Sister Kathleen has been a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family for 49 years. Before coming to St. Anthony’s, she worked at a church in Reedley, Calif., also named St. Anthony’s, in the Diocese of Fresno.

Everyone is invited to the appreciation luncheon. Tickets are $20 each. The menu will consist of chicken, pork loins, green salad, pasta salad, green beans, tomatoes and mushrooms, dinner roll, cake for dessert, and tea and coffee. The meal is catered by Walton’s Catering which also did the honors at the 25th anniversary of Father Patrick Walker, pastor, as a priest.

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YLI projects through the years

The Manteca Young Ladies Institute has supported many causes through the years, not just for St. Anthony’s Parish but for the community at large. They raise money for cancer research and have donated money to the Leukemia and Lymphoma research foundations. They have provided financial assistance to seminarians who are studying for the priesthood through the Serra Club. They have also donated scholarship money for students enrolled at St. Anthony of Padua School, and have similarly supported the Anthony’s Angels program for young Catholics. They have assisted as well in raising money for the Wounded Warriors.

College scholarships are also given to “girls who are young enough in our group” “to help them for college,” Ranjel said.

On the spiritual side of their ministry, the Young Ladies pray for “people that are in need of prayer” as well as providing corporal works of mercy. They are purchasing reading books for kindergarteners and first graders at St. Anthony School this year, for example. They also do the same for children enrolled in the church’s religious education (CCD) program. Recently, they sponsored “two little boys for Holy Communion” by purchasing their communion outfits.

Money that they give away comes from the few fund-raisers that they hold during the year such as the bake sale that they hold in conjunction with the annual St. Vincent de Paul Society omelet breakfast every first Sunday of December. During Palm Sunday, the Young Ladies partner with the Young Men’s Institute of St. Anthony’s in a breakfast fund-raiser held in the cafeteria. YLI members also hold bunco games during the year.

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YLI membership drive under way

Young Ladies Institute was founded in San Francisco on Sept. 5, 1887 by three young women who wanted to help a friend who was ill. At that time, “there was no organization giving such assistance to parishes,” Ranjel said. It is that spirit which of “sisterly care and concern for each other and for those in need” which guided the growth of this organization of Catholic women whose works are guided by the “principles of charity and love.”

Ironically, Young Ladies’ roster in Manteca has come to a point where members are closer to retirement or after-retirement age. Right now, the group is 64 members strong – but they lost two of them last weekend when two of their members passed away. Their youngest member, Monika Pize who attended St. Anthony’s School “just went to college,” Ranjel said. “She has been with us for over a year, but she is going to keep on coming to our meetings and we’re going to give her more money (for college).” She is currently enrolled at California State University, East Bay which was formerly called Hayward State University.

Scholarship amounts depend on how much available funds the Young Ladies have, from a few hundred dollars and “up to a thousand and if we have extra, they get the extra,” Ranjel said.

Insurance is another benefit that YLI members receive. “If you’re under 55, there’s life insurance. If you’re over 55, we call it a beneficiary member, you’re an associate. They just pay a little bit more,” she said.

Membership is open to Catholic women age “26 and up.” Like any club, there is a membership fee, which is $30 a year per person.

For more information on how to join the Young Ladies Institute at St. Anthony’s, or to reserve a ticket at the appreciation luncheon for Sister Ann and Sister Kathleen, call Sylvia Ranjel at 209.405.4292.