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Organization opens its doors for free feast
Past MRPS President Art Lucas marches in the parade in front of fellow former president Wes Harris.

This weekend, for the 103rd consecutive time, the Manteca Ripon Pentecost Society will open its doors to the community for a feast and a healthy helping of fellowship.

And for MRPS President Angela Seamas – who grew up prowling the MRPS halls on Grant Street – there’s no better time of year.

Seamas, a fourth-generation member of the organization, said that event – which begins this Saturday at 6 p.m. with a rosary – brings the community together and that the turnout is reflective of the work that the members of the hall itself do in the community during the rest of the year.

“I think that a lot of the members of our organization still love Manteca in a great way – I think the love they’ve put into Manteca and who they’ve been is reflected in how many people are able to come and spend time with us yearly for our celebration,” Seamas said. “It’s all about relationships – everybody is somebody here – and it’s great to see people continue to come back every year.”

The festivities will continue Sunday morning when people begin lining up in front of the MRPS Hall at 9:30 a.m. for a parade over to St. Anthony’s Catholic Church for a 10:30 a.m. mass. At the conclusion of the mass the parade will then march back to the hall – located at 133 N. Grant Street – for a lunchtime feast of traditional sopas.

The feast itself began centuries ago when Queen Isabel of Portugal, who would sneak bread out into the streets to feed the hungry, was stopped by her husband, King Diniz, who suspected that she had loaves of bread hidden beneath her apron. When Isabel went to show the king what she was carrying, the bread had been transformed into roses – signifying a divine miracle that is still recognized to this day.

Queen Isabella was canonized – formally recognized as a Saint by the Catholic Church for performing a miracle – in 1625 by Pope Urban VIII. Her canonization occurred nearly 350 years after she was born.

And so, the Portuguese feast in her honor.

With a lunchtime feeding and an evening feeding open to the entire community, it takes a lot of work – and even more food.

It takes upwards of a dozen cows to cook the amount of beef necessary as well as two pallets full of cabbage and massive quantities of onions and other additions to create the traditional dish – and enough volunteers that begin cooking and preparing days before the first pan will ever hit the serving table.

A live auction will take place on Sunday between the lunchtime feeding and evening feeding, and a dance will follow the evening feeding and continue until midnight.

For Seamas, the entire weekend will be a chance to reflect on the traditions that have been established on the organization more than a century ago and the people who carried on those traditions before her.

“Growing up and being a part of the hall, it becomes your family – your entire life is formed around it,” Seamas said. “And getting to be president of it comes with its challenges, sure, but it means now I’m running an organization alongside people who raised me up to be who I am – and there’s an overwhelming feeling of being blessed and fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be here and carry on a tradition like this that you can’t experience anywhere else.

“I think that the festa for me is about everybody it reminds me of – when you’re there, it gives you a nostalgia for everybody that was there before you and the memories you were able to make with the people who are no longer with you.”

To contact Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.