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What to see what’s right with the world? Drop by MRPS Hall Sunday
MRPS officers
Shown are part of a new generation of officers carrying on a 102-year tradition during the Sunday, June 26, MRPS Holy Ghost Celebration. The celebration starts with the festa parade at 9 a.m., mass at St. Anthony’s at 10:30 a.m., sopas lunch at noon, auction n after lunch, afternoon sopas after the auction, and dancing at 8 p.m. It takes place at the MRPS Hall, 133 N. Grant St., Manteca.

Mark Zuckerberg once proclaimed Facebook wasn’t about making money but was about bringing people together.

Internal memos from years ago that surfaced in 2018 show that wasn’t his non-public thoughts at the time.

 The fact his net worth today hovers around $56 billion and Facebook itself is worth more than $500 billion along with the tentacles that Facebook has inserted into personal postings to harvest data for sale plus their less-than-stellar effort to rein in dark impulses they helped bring to the Internet makes Zuckerberg’s words ring hollow today.

If Zuckerberg wants to see an example of a social platform that brings people together, helps build a community, fosters understanding, and does so without the need to make billions of dollars that requires one to bury their youthful idealism while standing the test of time then he might want to take a look at the Manteca Ripon Pentecost Society.

For more than a century the MRPS has served as not just a social network for its members but it has been the “platform” for countless endeavors via its social halls that raise funds for community projects as well as a venue for people to celebrate weddings and more.

On Sunday for the 102nd  time the MRPS will open its door and hearts to the community to literally break bread with thousands and share face-to-face fellowship in celebration of life.

The festa — and a similar one that will be staged by the Festa Espirito Santo de Manteca later this summer — is part of a centuries-old Portuguese thanksgiving tradition

It was founded on events — secular and by nature — that divine intervention helped along to break the suffering of hundreds of thousands from a devastating drought in Portugal nearly 700 years ago.

It led to the formation of Holy Ghost celebrations that literally involves breaking bread — ok, soggy bread — as part of Portuguese sopas shared at no cost to all comers during the annual event.

If you don’t think you wouldn’t be wrapped in warmth at a festa even if you aren’t Portuguese you are sadly mistaken.

One of the biggest surprises moving to Manteca 31 years ago was the fact there were two Holy Ghost organizers here — the MRPS and the FESM. Their social halls are literally within a block of each other in downtown Manteca.

I grew up in Lincoln where the Placer County Holy Ghost celebration may have been a Portuguese tradition but it had morphed into a four-day community celebration with a carnival at McBean Park and the biggest parade of the year that had crowds lining 11 blocks.

It did not just involve the queens from the local festas and those throughout the north state as well as the Portuguese band. Entries included the high school and grammar school bands, Scouting groups, antique vehicles, equestrian entries and more.

People — even if they were not Portuguese — used the Holy Ghost Festival to stage family reunions that literally took place in front yards along the parade route with friends and strangers motioned to join as they strolled down sidewalks.

My biggest thrill as a seventh grader was marching with the Glen Edwards School band while playing the Sousaphone and then dashing home to change and then heading back down to the park.

I’d meet up with friends to ride the Hammer, Spin-a-Wheel and other diversions plus try my luck at the dime toss and horse races.

It was mandatory, of course, to go with your family to enjoy the one thing that I truly miss since forsaking meat 36 years ago — sopas and the treat our next door neighbor Elsie Silva would make for the Holy Ghost celebration and Christmas, enchiladas made with spicy Portuguese touches.

There were nearly a dozen outdoor settings for the sopas that people waited in line for hours.

Elsie’s task for the community sopa effort was to pick mint leaves from bushes that had been planted for that purpose along the Auburn Ravine that ran along the park.

My fond memories of the Holy Ghost celebration were boosted in part from the fact we lived three doors down from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

A smaller morning parade — much like what the FESM and MRPS do today to take the crown and queen to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church — brought that year’s officers and queens accompanying the crowns from the small building housing an altar at the park to the church.

Given the small size of the church, those who could not fit in during the blessing and mass would end up in neighbors’ yards under stately sycamore trees for a respite from the late morning sun on the Sunday when the festa took place ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

The Holy Ghost celebration brought people together from all backgrounds to share the latest joys in their lives, to laugh, to reminisce, and to share real face time.

Events such as Holy Ghost  celebrations and organizations such as the MRPS and FESM are the real deal when it comes to social platforms.

The virtual socializing that Facebook has inspired has taken the gossip mongers and those who have a bitter edge for whatever reason out of the shadows to a point they overshadow everything we do with instant commentary or an attempt at witty political commentary in 144 characters or less.

Social media has super-charged hate, loathing, jealously, and cruelty.

Masked behind anonymity, abusers build a warped sense of self-importance as they slice and dice others.
Targets range from acquaintances to strangers half way around the world.
Festas centuries before the Internet was created have operated as a way to bring a tight community together with those outside their circle.

Strangers are embraced as friends and not used as target practice to fold, spindle and mutilate.

And if you need verification that all is really right with the world despite the 24/7 gloom and doom du jour brought to you by the social platforms that are built by algorithms relentlessly seeking the lowest common denominator and aren’t a place where you can have the pleasure of engaging people face to face instead of by FaceTime, all you had to do is drop by the MRPS Hall on Grant Street in downtown Manteca on Sunday.

There you can savor a sense of community and humility.

Those values have prevailed despite a world that’s seen plenty of wars, reprehensible acts, unadulterated cruelty and pure hatred in the past 700 years.

 If social media truly wants to advance the general well-being of people and foster a sense of community, they should emulate the spirt of Portuguese Holy Ghost social halls up and down the Great Central Valley.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at