February 2024-- Volume III, Issue 12

Supporting the Work of Mission Circle Inc

Welcome to the 36th Edition

Mimi has been a good friend to our missionaries and Padre Alex and Padre José Luis for many years. She has hosted Masses and religious education at her home. Here she is managing a guinea hen.

If you are interested in traveling to Cuba or participating in a medical mission to Honduras in 2024, please contact Gini at 386-479-9087 or ginieckert@gmail.com. We have a special need for bilingual people.

In this issue you can see photos of our missions in all three countries with the focus articles on Cuba.

This newsletter marks a milestone. It completes a three-year cycle of monthly newsletters!

We started the newsletter as a way to keep in touch with you, our supporters, when we learned we would no longer be a ministry of St. Peter Catholic Church in DeLand.

If you enjoy the newsletter or have a suggestion for what you would like to see (or not see), please let us know.

Thank you for the messages you have sent. We love to hear from you. And thank you for your faithful financial support. Many people thought Mission Circle could not survive. But here we are three years later, transformed to Mission Circle Inc, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and still able to make positive impacts through your donations and to build meaningful relationships in Honduras, Haiti, and Cuba.

Another note regarding the newsletter is that Constant Contact, this app which we use, is changing the email address from which you receive this. The purpose is to improve service and prevent "phishing" and "spoofing." So the "sent from" address is MissionCircleInc@CubaHaitiHonduras.We are still Mission Circle Inc and can be contacted at ginieckert@gmail.com

To read the history of our organization, updated May 2023, From St. Peter Mission Circle to Mission Circle Inc.--A Journey of Faith, click here.

To donate to any of our missions, write a check to Mission Circle Inc and write HondurasHaiti, or Cuba on the memo line. You can also arrange direct payment from your bank. Or you can use the newest technology--the QR code pictured here! Just point your smartphone camera at the image (square with lots of dots). Donations to all missions are eligible for applicable tax deductions.

To donate to the Honduras mission: mail the check to Mission Circle Inc c/o Donna Kinney, 2218 Discovery Circle West, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442. You may also designate Women's Micro-credit Project, Water Filters, or most needed on the memo line. The Mission Circle Inc Honduras mission is a ministry of St. Ambrose Catholic Church and sister parish to Our Lady of the Rosary in Sabanagrande, FM, Honduras. For questions about the Honduras mission, please contact Donna Kinney, 954-290-7952 or via email rdldn2017@gmail.com


To donate to the Haiti and Cuba missions write the check to Mission Circle Inc, and write Haiti or Cuba on the memo line.  Mail the check to: Gini Eckert, 280 Raymore Ave., DeLand, FL 32720.

Mission Circle Inc is twinned with St. John Bosco Parish and associated parishes in Las Tunas, Cuba, and the four schools of St. John Paul II Mission in Lascahobas, Haiti. For the Haiti mission, we are still requesting $150 per child, per year, or $15 per month, to continue to sponsor your child or children. For the Cuba mission we suggest $300 per year, but we will gratefully accept any amount you choose for any of the missions. You can also make a general donation to Mission Circle Inc to be used for whichever mission has the greatest current need.

***************************************Alternative Giving********************************************

Another option is the Alternative Giving form here to make a gift which helps those in need while honoring those you love. If you want to honor someone's memory or give a special gift to loved ones, remember our year-round Alternative Giving (Click the green words to access a form, then send your check(s) for preferred missions as described above, print the form and send it to your loved one).

Focus on Cuba

Celebrating Two New Religious in St John Bosco Parish

by Diane Saffran

I would like to share with you some good news from Cuba. Samantha, from St John Bosco, the parish with which Mission Circle Inc twins in Las Tunas, Cuba, has just taken vows as a postulant to become a nun. I had the pleasure of knowing her during the many trips I have made to Cuba. I witnessed her joy in teaching the children about Jesus and the Faith. She has a beautiful voice that she uses to encourage the children to learn while having fun. I first met her as a teenager, and I know this has been something she has wanted for a long time.

We are also celebrating Dianelis. She, too, is from St. John Bosco Parish and is just beginning her formation to become a nun.

Please keep Samantha and Dianelis in your prayers. Thank you for your past and present support of Padre Alex and Padre José Luis and their continued good work. Your help is making a difference, enabling them to continue growing the church as well as feeding and clothing those in need.

In the picture above, the young lady on the far right is Samantha. Congratulations to her! She has recently taken vows as a postulant.

In this picture, the young lady in the middle is Dianelis. We congratulate her also as she begins her formation as a nun.

Celebrating Holidays in Cuba

by Gini Eckert

We shared a couple of photos of Christmas celebrations in Cuba last month in the Mission Updates. This month I want to show you just how inventive Padre Alex and Padre José Luis are.

They went to Padre Alex's brother's farm to gather supplies from the fields to collect moss and branches with P. Alex's brother and his children (top photo) to make natural-looking nativities to which they attached colorful images of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (second photo). They made many of these and gave them as gifts to those confined to their homes.

The two priests also built a Christmas tree! There are no real trees available, so they created a frame (see P. José constructing it in the driveway), covered with fabric (that's P. Alex working in the church), and decorated it (P. José Luis and P. Alex in the background). In the final photo, the "tree" is an elegant, festive addition to the altar.

Padre Alex sent this Thought of the Day from Fr. Felipe de Urca which is translated below:

Christmas brought us gifts from heaven, but let us remember that they come from above in the form of seeds. It is our job to plant them and take care of them during the rest of the year.

Meet Friends of Mission Circle Inc.*

In this space we introduced our pastor members and each board member. We have also started to introduce our other supporters, so you met Mariano Guas last month.

If you are reading this newsletter, we would like to introduce you to the Friends of Mission Circle Inc community.

Send a brief bio of yourself. You can include where you were born, where you live, your occupation, your family, why you are interested in our missions, how you first became involved--anything you'd like to share. Aim for 250-350 words, but I can work with you to edit and you have the last say. Also send two photos of your choice, maybe a headshot and an action photo.

We hope to get your information, and we will introduce our amazing supporters each month. You live in many places and have so many talents, interests, and accomplishments!

Send your text and photos to Ginieckert@gmail.com

This is a group in Cuba with P. Alex.

Board of Directors of Mission Circle Inc includes Gini Eckert, Chair; Ann Marie Lewis, Co-chair; Diane Saffran, Secretary; Cas Crownover, Treasurer; Donna Kinney, Team Leader-Honduras; Mary Donovan, Team Secretary-Honduras; Mary DeLouis, Team Leader-Cuba; Camille Nasbe, Team Secretary-Cuba; Tracy Vass, Team Leader-Haiti; Open, Team Secretary-Haiti; Fr. Dariusz Zarebski, S.D.S.-Pastor Member and Fr. Tom Connery, Pastor Member.

Mission Updates


After Christmas, the priests of eastern Cuba had their annual spiritual retreat in the town of El Cobre (Copper) which has a retreat center and this beautiful basilica for the Patron of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity.

Padre Alex said, “We Cubans sing a beautiful song to the Virgin of Charity that says, ‘At the feet of the Virgin I bring my sorrows, my prayers, my dreams, my entire life, pray for us, Holy Mother of God, to be worthy of the promises of the Lord.’ "


One of our recent projects, a priority for Padre Gustavo, is building or renovating chapels in the villages he oversees as pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary. There are 65 of these communities! Padre does an excellent job managing the funds we contribute and encouraging the communities to contribute labor, donations, and fundraising events to support the projects. They definitely have "skin in the game."

He sent these photos of a recent project. This chapel, called St Anthony, is in the community of Salalica in the municipality of Nueva Armenia, quite a distance from Sabanagrande.

They completely removed the old roof and installed a sturdy one made of metal. It will be secure, but noisy during thunderstorms!


On a recent Parish Twinning Zoom meeting, David Siler, Executive Director of PTPA, shared his perspective from a recent trip to the north of Haiti, the Cap Hatian area. He went as a representative of PTPA and also to work with the parish with which he has long twinned. He said he felt safe in that area, but in the south, near Port au Prince, there are serious issues. Gangs have roadblocks and charge to pass at many points along the way. And kidnapping, robbery, and murders continue with frequency.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support. This is what we can do to help in this unthinkable situation.

Click here to check out all the new photos from Cuba, Haiti, and Honduras Missions: MISSION CIRCLE'S FACEBOOK PAGE

To View

The Family of Jesus

By Karen Kingsbury

Recommended by Donna Kinney, Honduras Team Leader for Mission Circle Inc

In this space we recommend books and films that we have found that "take" us to Honduras, Haiti, or Cuba vicariously, or, inspire us for mission work. We would love to hear from you about these suggestions and your recommendations

The Family of Jesus offers a fictional view of six of the family members of Jesus (Mary, Joseph, Jesus’ brother James*, John the Baptist, Zechariah, and Elizabeth), all anchored by Scripture, creating a life-changing and emotional connection to the Bible. This is the first book in a series of two which can be read individually or used in bible study groups. Study questions follow each chapter and a series of videos are also available.

Like many, I tend to shy away from books that fictionalize Bible stories. However, Karen Kingsbury begins this book with a heartfelt reader’s letter describing her research and partnership with a minister to ensure the stories told in the Bible were reflected accurately, while injecting her own imagination which humanizes the characters and helps us to fall even deeper in love with the Bible. I really enjoyed this read and can’t wait to read the second book of the series, The Friends of Jesus.

This book is available in Kindle, audio, hardback and paperback formats and is available from Amazon, and Volusia and Broward County libraries.


Catholic teachIng says Jesus did not have any siblings, Mary was always a Virgin, but this book is fictional. See here for a discussion of the use of “brother” in scripture: https://www.ncregister.com/blog/how-to-respond-when-people-say-jesus-had-brothers-and-sisters?amp


We did it! Mission Circle Inc is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit and we have established a bank account! What does our nonprofit status mean for you--our friends and supporters? Two things: we can now receive tax deductible donations as Mission Circle Inc for our work in Haiti, Honduras, and Cuba.

Please continue to pray for the clergy and people of San Juan Bosco parish in Las Tunas, Cuba; Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Sabanagrande, FM, Honduras; and St. John Paul II Mission, with four schools in Central Haiti. They are praying for us.

Also, please share our newsletter with your friends and family, and tell us what you like and what you would like to see in future issues!

Our next meeting will be February 8 at 7 pm on Zoom. Email ginieckert@gmail.com for information to join the meeting.

May God bless you abundantly.

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