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Melting pot opens MRPS membership
Gil Fagundes, right, chats with friends during Wednesday’s MRPS Membership Dinner conducted at the MRPS Hall. - photo by HIME ROMERO
The Manteca-Ripon Pentecost Society used to be made up exclusively of those of Portuguese decent.

But times have changed.

“Our doors are open to everyone, especially since the area is now a melting pot of many cultures,” said Tony Coit, who, along with his wife Marchelle, is the current president of the non-profit organization.

The annual membership dinner was held Wednesday at the MRPS Social Hall, with Marchelle sending out about 378 invitations.

Those attending enjoyed a menu consisting of roast beef, pasta, rolls, and sliced tomatoes.

During this time, they had a chance to sign up as volunteers for the various activities planned for the upcoming year.

Included is the Give Every Child A Chance Casino Night scholarship fundraiser (Sept. 25), omelet breakfast (Oct. 3), steak & shrimp dinner (Nov. 13), annual Holiday Boutique (Dec. 3-5), the children’s Christmas party (Dec. 15), Cioppino feed (Jan. 8),  presentation of queens (Feb. 12), fish fry (March 9), pancake breakfast (March 13), rib dinner / comedy show (April 9), car show (May 1) and the Festa (June 4-5).

The Festa is the biggest event for MRPS, according to the Coits. They officially took office at the change-of-command event held in conjunction with last month’s Contas.

“The Festa is when we feed our community for free,” Tony Coit said. “It’s an important event (for MRPS).”

The tradition traces back to the 1300s when famine hit Portugal, according to Mary (Gomes) Del Pino, who is the Portuguese class instructor.

“Queen Isabella had a great devotion to the Holy Spirit,” she said. “She prayed that her people would be saved from famine.”

Queen Isabella not only made sure that the people were fed but decreed a feast to be held every year.

“That tradition spread from Portugal to the Azores to California,” Del Pino said.

The Coits’ three daughters, Natalie, Mallory and Katie, will serve as queens at the Festa in Manteca.

Prior to Wednesday’s event, membership at MRPS was at about 300. Tony Coit, who has belonged to the group for as long as he can remember – his father, Paul, and brother, Paul Jr., are past presidents, and his mother, Joyce Lynn Coit, is a longtime staple at many of the MRPS events – indicated that those numbers have held steady in previous years.

Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the hall.

In addition, MRPS awards scholarships annually to graduating high school seniors, with funding here made possible by some of the events along with those renting out the hall.

More information on MRPS can be obtained by calling 209-825-4255.