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Ash Wednesday starts 40 days of Lent
A row of blooming white and yellow daffodils stands out along the side of an alfalfa field on Peach Avenue in south Manteca on Monday. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Christendom begins the solemn observance of Lent on Ash Wednesday. The 40 days of the Lenten season, for many believers, mark a time of penance in the form of prayer, fasting and abstinence leading up to the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

For many people throughout the United States and the world, today is the traditional Fat Tuesday or the celebration of Mardi Gras which is a day of feasting in anticipation of the 40 days of fasting.

In the Catholic faith, Ash Wednesday is one of the days during the year marked by large crowds as members of the faithful go to church to receive blessed ashes on their foreheads. St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca is no exception.

To accommodate the large number of parishioners coming to church on Wednesday to receive the ashes, the church has scheduled different times for Eucharist (celebration of Mass) and Scripture Service. The day’s schedule is as follows:

•7 a.m. and 9 a.m., Masses in  English

•12:25 p.m., Scripture service in English

•6 p.m. Mass in English

•8 p.m. Mass in Spanish

For Catholics, Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence from meat. All Fridays throughout Lent are also days of abstinence. Fasting is not required for those who are under the age of 18 and those who are 60 and older. Abstinence applies to all Catholics who are 14 years of age or older.

The Lenten season will continue until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. St. Anthony’s traditional Lenten Soup Suppers will begin on Monday, March 14. These are held in the church cafeteria from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Those who want to attend may bring bread, wine, or soda to complement their meal. The soup is free.

Also on Ash Wednesday, the MRPS Hall on North Grant Street in downtown Manteca is offering its traditional fish dinner from 4 to 7:30 p.m. For a donation of $12.50 for adults - $6 for children age 12 and under – guests will feast on fish, potatoes, green beans, salad, bread and dessert. Take-out orders will be available. For tickets, call (209) 823-6560 or Fagundes Meats at (209) 239-4184.

The Knights of Columbus and YMI (Young Men’s Institute) of St. Anthony’s are once again teaming up to hold its annual fish fry dinners. The first one will be held Monday, March 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the church cafeteria. Cost for adults is $10 each, $5 for children age 12 and under. Complementing the fish in the menu will be red potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, ice cream and soda.

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church is located at 505 E. North Street in Manteca. For more information, log on to St. Anthony’s website at Or, for e-mail

For Ash Wednesday Mass and Scripture service at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Lathrop, call (209) 858-4466. The church is located at 16200 Cambridge Drive, about just a block north of Louise Avenue.

For Ash Wednesday Mass and Scripture service at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in rural Ripon call (209) 838-2133. The church is located at 19399 E. Highway 120.