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Baby shower for baby Jesus today, Sunday
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When the three kings of the East heard about the birth of Jesus, they traveled far to bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

A modern version of sorts of that story is happening this weekend at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca. At all the Sunday masses and at the anticipated Mass on Saturday evening, the annual Baby Shower for Baby Jesus will be held. That’s when parishioners will have the opportunity to lay their baby shower gifts around the crèche, sans the baby Jesus, in front of the altar.

But for the first time in the nearly a decade that Sister Anne’s Ministry of Caring has been running this one-of-a-kind baby shower, a group of about a dozen youngsters from the Tracy First Presbyterian Children’s Center will be traveling to Manteca to present their gifts for the baby Jesus. This was the brainchild of Loretta Nunez, the Tracy children’s teacher.

“She’s a parishioner of St. Anthony’s, and every year she comes to the baby shower. It never meant anything to her, but last year it hit her. She decided to teach her kids that Christmas is not all about Santa Claus; it’s about Baby Jesus,” explained Sister Ann.

“Every year, she teaches them songs and about Jesus and that He was born on Christmas day,” she added.

After Nunez had her epiphany last year, she called Sister Ann to make the necessary arrangements about bringing her students to the Baby Shower with their gifts. Nunez also asked questions about the baby shower project and what it was all about.

“I said I wanted people to know there’s more to Christmas than Santa Claus. And since Mary is going to have her baby, we want to give something to her baby. I explained it to her that way,” Sister Ann said.

She also informed Father Patrick Walker, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, about the group of children coming from Tracy. “He said this is something great, that some people from out of town are interested in what we do in our church,” added Sister Ann.

All the gifts collected – monetary donations are also welcome – will go to the Pregnancy Help Center in Manteca to help the young ones in the community. Layettes, infant clothes, lotions, bibs, powders, formula, especially diapers for babies up to 12 months are always needed at the Pregnancy Help Center. Cash donations will also help the non-profit, all-volunteer program pay for the rent of their office at the Bobson Center, corner North Main and Edison Street next to the State Farm Insurance office. The corner commerce center was the home of Bobson Cleaners for decades.

The students from Tracy First Presbyterian Children’s Center will be presenting their gifts to the Baby Jesus before the 5 p.m. Mass today. They will be joined by preschoolers at St. Anthony of Padua School. Masses on Sunday when the baby shower gifts will be presented are at 7 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m. (Spanish), and at 6 p.m. (Teen Mass).

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church is located at 505 E. North St. (corner Fremont Avenue) in Manteca.