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Today last of Lenten fish fry dinners
Leo DeGroot deep fries fish during a previous dinner in February. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The St. Vincent de Paul Society has helped untold number of needy families and individuals in Manteca and surroundings for decades. Young men studying for the priesthood have been able to continue pursuing their religious vocation, thanks in part to the assistance provided by the Bishop’s Seminarian Fund of the Diocese of Stockton. And a number of area youth have been able to play in Little League with the help of generous donations from organizations whose mission is to step up when there’s a need.

All of the above, and more, have been turned into reality by organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Young Men’s Institute, better known simply as YMI, two fraternal groups affiliated with St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca. The reason they are able to extend a helping hand where there’s a need for financial help is because of the generosity they receive from members of the community who support their various fund-raising events such as the fish fry taking place tonight in the cafeteria at St. Anthony.

This is the last of the three fish-fry fund-raising events hosted by the two fraternal groups during Lent this year, explained Joe Gomes who, along with Jim Thissen, started this annual event 17 years ago.

Tonight’s fish-fry dinner will take place in St. Anthony’s School Cafeteria, 525 E. North St. Takeout orders will be available from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Those who have time for a sit-down dinner and camaraderie will be able to enjoy their meal from 5 to 7 p.m.

Cost for each adult and for each take-out dinner is $12.50. Dine-in dinners for children are $7 each.

No need to purchase tickets. Just pay at the door. But those who have any further questions can call Joe Gomes at 209.765.2525 or Leo DeGroot at 209.479.3061.

The menu includes deep-fried cod fish, boiled red potatoes with special butter sauce, green beans, cole slaw, dinner bread, ice cream, and beverage. While the majority of diners order their fish deep-fried, Gomes said they can offer baked fish for those with dietary restrictions. The fish filets are not breaded but they are cooked with the same spices, he said.

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Fish fry takes a church village to make fund-raiser happen

It takes practically a church village to organize and host the popular these Lenten fish fry dinners. Fortunately, the Knights of Columbus and YMI don’t have a shortage of willing volunteers to tackle each of the work involved.

The fraternal groups also get a big helping hand from Manteca businessman Frank Teicheira, owner of Fagundes Meats, who orders, stores, then thaws out the fish fillets purchased from Pacific Fresh, donating the use of his business facility. Charged with cutting the filleted fish into dinner size is YMI member Pete Padron.

The task of breading and seasoning the cod fish falls into the able hands of Janice Laplume who has a crew of women to help her that includes her daughter and some friends. Parishioner Bob Pico is in charge of preparing the green beans and potato, and fellow YMI member Carl Joaquin does the frying of the fish.

Others helping prepare the rest of the menu are Frank and Marilyn Penko, John Nussbaumer, and Richard Gruber. YMI former president Al DeGroot and his team of volunteers staff the bar during dinner.