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Manteca Ripon Pentecost Society
Paul and Joycelyn Coit (MRPS presidents 1994) stand in front of wall of past MRPS president portraits with Paul’s on the top middle.

The Manteca Ripon Pentecost Society this year’s is staging their centennial Holy Ghost Celebration — a tradition steeped in faith, family, sharing, and community.

While the roots of the MRPS can be traced back to the summer of 1919 the reason for the celebration of thanksgiving  dates back to 1296 when Queen Isabel of Argon defied her husband King Diniz of Portugal by helping feed her subjects who were suffering from the effects of a devastating drought followed by a long feminine.

The 100th anniversary year for the MRPS kicks off Saturday, Feb. 9, with the traditional presentation of the queens for the Holy Ghost celebration that will take place later this summer.

The faith-based social group conducts numerous events throughout the year at its social halls at 133 N. Grant St. in Manteca. Those halls also are the location many community organizations use to stage the bulk of their crab feeds, Super Bowl omelet breakfasts, dinner dances, and other fundraisers. It has also served as the location for countless wedding receptions for generations of Manteca area residents.

“I grew up in this hall,” said Chris Teicheira who is serving as the MRPS president for its 100th anniversary year. “(The MRPS members) are like one big family.”

Teicheira follows in the footsteps of his father Richard Teicheira who served in 1980-1981 and still has the distinction of being the youngest MRPS president ever at age 25 as well as his grandfather Manuel Teicheira along with his wife Ida who served as MRPS president in 1949-1959.

“It’s an honor, but a little daunting,” Teicheira said.

He noted his aunt Mabel Teicheira — who at age 99 was the oldest member of the MRPS when she died on Jan. 15 — told friends “I want to see how Chris is going to do.”

Teicheira, who for a number of years has conducted the auctions during the MRPS Holy Ghost celebration as well as the annual reading of the accounts, said he’ll have plenty of help given how members are pulling together to make the 100th year  memorable.

MRPS history

The MRPS’ roots go back to May of 1919 when a group of Portuguese living in the Manteca area held their first meeting at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Antone Regallo. The purpose was to bring the Holy Ghost Celebration to Manteca.

The newly formed society was called the Divino Espirito Santo de Manteca. Its first president was Manuel Alves. The first queen was Mabel Garcia with her side maids being Carmel Coelho and Ema Garcia. The festa and dances were held at the Brick Hall as it was called at the time.

In 1928-1929, the Portuguese newspaper known as Colonia Portuguesa reported that hundreds of Portuguese from San Diego, Los Angeles, and from elsewhere along the California coast attended the two-day festa in Manteca.

They were entertained by the popular pyro technician O’Papagaio from Oakland who conducted one of the biggest fireworks shows Manteca had ever seen

Ripon started their festa in 1921. It was called the Festa do Espirito Santo de Ripon. John Loureiro Sr. was the first president. The first queen was Mae Maciel with Marie Loureiro and Angelina Regallo as the first side maids.

Ripon sold their hall in 1955 and joined Manteca to form a new celebration known as the Manteca Ripon Pentecost Society.

Holy Ghost background

Festas are held on weekends from April until August in areas settled by early immigrants from Portugal and the Azores islands. The festas stretch from the North Coast, down the San Joaquin Valley, and to San Diego.

There is a tradition that shows Queen Isabel in 1296 with red roses in one hand and a small loaf of bread in the other.

The tradition stems from her habit of taking bread from the palace and secretly passing it to the poor and hungry. One day, the king found out about it and confronted her. She was asked to  open her apron. When she opened her apron to reveal the stolen bread a miracle had occurred. Instead of bread, a bunch of red roses fell to the floor. Her generosity and love for her people had been honored by God.

Masses were said continuously during a nine day novena until the day of Pentecost when the people witnessed three ships sail up the harbor and dock in Lisbon. The three ships were filled with grain that helped bring their hunger to an end. It also began to rain after several years of drought. This was considered to b e a major miracle.

In thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit for this miraculous deliverance, the day of the Pentecost was declared a national holiday. The festive day was held in Portugal for centuries before being exported to the Azores islands and then to communities in California including Manteca with the immigration of Portuguese settlers.

Queen Isabel was canonized by Pope Urban the Eight in 1625. Her devotion to her people was symbolized by the promise she made to the Holy Spirit that if her people were delivered from famine and drought, she would lay her jeweled crown on the altar as a gift to the Church.

Replicas of her crown adorned with the dove, the Holy Spirit’s symbol, were made. Queen Isabel began a custom of crowning and placing her cape on the poorest girl in the kingdom and the poorest male beggar. The custom of crowning and feeding the people of the community takes place still today through the annual festa — a tradition that has survived for nearly 700 years.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email