The Manteca Ripon Pentecost Society is marking its centennial year this weekend but the organization‘s roots go much deeper.
The inspiration for the MRPS’s Holy Ghost Celebration — a tradition steeped in faith, family, sharing, and community — can be traced back to 1296. That’s 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 tradition stems from Queen Isabel’s 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 and 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
The Holy Ghost celebration is essentially a thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit for this miraculous deliverance. 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.
This year’s MRPS celebration is Saturday-Sunday, June 28-29, at the MRPS Hall, 133 N. Grant St., in downtown Manteca.
The community, as always, is invited to join the celebration that includes two free Portuguese sopas meals.
The weekend starts Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with a rosary led by Father Chad Wahl in the MRPS ballroom, There will be a special presentation and a musical performance by Generations Band. Refreshments will be served.
On Sunday, the parade departs the MRPS Hall for St. Anthony’s Catholic Church where mass will be offered with Bishop Cotta as the presider. Afterwards, a procession will go back to the hall where there will be a lunch served followed by an auction. Then at 7 p.m. on Sunday a sopas dinner will be served followed by the presentation of the Queens and MRPS officers. It will be followed by adults performing a folkloric dance presentation. The Generations band will provide dance music afterwards.
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.
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.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com