November 2019
By Father John Howard
Reprinted from Hearts on Fire; The Eudist Family; 2019 Issue 2
St. James Mission Circle was founded by Fr. John Howard, CJM, in 1977. He had discovered a struggling girls’ home in Tijuana, Mexico just across the border from San Diego. The house had been founded a few years earlier by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, better known now as the Good Shepherd Sisters (another order in the Eudist Family). The purpose of Mission Circle was twofold: to help this much-needed girls’ home and to give parishioners of the St. James/St. Leo community in Solana Beach, CA, the opportunity be a missionary for a day.  
For 42 years, the group has continuously offered financial support for the sisters’ apostolate, called Casa Eudes. They have helped to maintain and enlarge the girls’ home and created strong educational programs for the girls which give them a rare chance to study for a career and higher education. They also organize outings for the girls, host a big Christmas party, and a spring fashion show every year to showcase the work of girls.  
Not content to help in only one area, Mission Circle has expanded its activities on both sides of the border. Every week, a group of volunteers prepare hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Mexican prisoners and the homeless people along the Tijuana River; they call themselves the “PBJ Brigade.” Another group of volunteers offers tutoring to students in the Hispanic community of St. James/St. Leo Parish. A third group, in cooperation with our parish thrift store, helps furnish homes for the poor with donated items. Once a year, Mission Circle organizes a “shoe drive” to collect or purchase thousands of new shoes for children in Oceanside, CA, who would otherwise go barefoot. Locally, they also provide supplies and volunteers to the Community Resource Center Food Pantry in Encinitas, CA. 
Mission Circle volunteers rarely miss an occasion to be missionaries of mercy. Aside from ongoing programs, they have also been known to bake cookies for a prisoners’ retreat at Donovan Prison, help in blanket drives for the ministry of the Eudist Servants of the 11 th  Hour, and perform countless other tasks of love. Over more than four decades, this organization has been a channel for people to live out their love, through millions in donations and (most importantly) hours of time given.  
CRC Holiday Baskets
For one weekend every December, the Del Mar Fairgrounds is alive with Christmas Spirit. That’s when Community Resource Center hosts its annual Holiday Baskets event. More than 6,000 people in North County (including 3,000 children and 300 seniors) receive much-needed gifts of food, toys, blankets, warm jackets, baby supplies, and much more that they otherwise would not be able to afford. It is a weekend of hope, joy, and fellowship with members of our community.
Holiday Baskets which runs December 13-15 is an enormous undertaking, one that is only made possible with the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. This year, Mission Circle has the opportunity to bring a group of volunteers to serve at the event on Saturday, December 14 from 4:30-7:30PM. If you are interested in learning more and being part of our Holiday Baskets team, contact Anastacia Grenda at .
Cookies for KAIROS
for our Bakers...
who provided 353 dozen homemade cookies for the October KAIROS retreat at Donovan State Prison! Sharing your time and talent helped a prisoner feel the sweet presence of Jesus and the love and mercy He extends to all.
Volunteer Anastacia Grenda, New Social Media Coordinator
For Anastacia Grenda, it all started on Mission Circle Sunday. Touched by the video screened during Mass, she scanned the volunteer opportunities being promoted outside the church and spotted one that suited her perfectly. Was the Holy Spirit at work? After all, she had recently completed a volunteer position writing Facebook posts for her daughter’s class and now Mission Circle was seeking a volunteer writer to administer its Facebook page. Grenda offered her services and soon she was posting news items, photos, volunteer opportunities and more on Facebook for Mission Circle.
Grenda, a parishioner of St. James for about 10 years, is married to Tim Grenda, whose parents, Ron and Harriet Grenda, are long-time parishioners. Now Grenda is writing lively interesting posts on Facebook about the many activities Mission Circle sponsors. Whether it is making peanut butter sandwiches or bagging food for hurricane victims, you can find it all on Facebook due to her creative efforts.          
Grenda, a professional writer for San Diego Magazine, Edible San Diego and Carlsbad Magazine and corporate publications, sees Facebook as just another communication tool that can be effective in reaching out to Mission Circle volunteers and those who might like to volunteer. In time, she hopes to add Instagram to Mission Circle’s arsenal of communication tools. She encourages everyone involved in Mission Circle to “like” Mission Circle on Facebook and keep up with events and photos and happenings.

Watch for us soon on…..
54,000 Meals to Help the People of the Bahamas!
A Great Event, but Now Mission Circle Needs Your Help
Celebrating 30 Years
A Community Committed to Empowering Kids
Just as arriving guests were transformed into another realm as they entered through a colorfully decorated door of paper streamers and flowers, the kids who participate in La Clase Mágica are transformed as they learn valuable work and study habits and gain confidence in their abilities.

On a bright, sunny October afternoon at St. Leo Mission, parents, students, and guests celebrated 30 years of La Clase Mágica, a free after-school tutoring program founded by Dr. Olga Vasquez, a professor at UCSD. La Colonia de Eden Gardens has been involved for the past 3 years and formally took over responsibility and stewardship in 2018.  The celebration included traditional Mexican dancers, music, face painting, and favorite Mexican foods from pan dulce to tamales.

Mission Circle supports the tutoring program with volunteers and needed supplies. Mira Costa Community College students also tutor and the Westview High School Robotics Team shares their skills in coding and robotics.
“We are very grateful”, says Manny Aguilar, Board Chair of La Colonia de Eden Gardens, “for the positive impact that La Clase Mágica has made in our community over the past 30 years having served nearly 1,000 students. It is our honor and responsibility to ensure that we continue this difference-making program far into the future.”
For more information about La Colonia de Eden Gardens and its programs, visit
Want to Make a Difference?
On-going Volunteer Opportunities
Books for Tutoring Program
Gently used or new children’s books, from Dr. Seuss to young adult, needed for the Tutoring Program’s library. Please place books in a bag marked TUTORING and leave in the social room at St. James. Our students and tutors GREATLY appreciate your donations!
Contact: Jim McCollum,
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Donations Needed
Every Week!
It takes a lot of peanut butter and jelly to make 1,000 sandwiches each week to feed the prisoners and homeless in Tijuana. Please leave your jars of creamy PB & any flavor Jelly in the social room under the sink at St. James.    
Contact: Stephanie Kowack,
Travel Size Toiletries
Please save the travel-size toiletries f rom your hotel stays and leave them under the sink in the St. James social
room. The prisoners in the Tijuana jail will greatly appreciate them .
Monday,  November 11
MC Monthly Meeting – Open to ALL
7:00 – 8:00 PM (Meetings are on the 2 nd Monday now!)
St. James Church Gathering/Reading Room
Contact:   Kevin O’Connor ,
Mondays & Wednesdays
After-school Tutoring Program: 
T eens to retired adults, needed to assist pre-k to 8 th grade students with homework and reading practice Mondays and Wednesdays 4:00-5:30 pm at St. Leo Mission. Tutoring schedule is flexible to accommodate our volunteers. Come for a visit and tour!
Contact: Jim McCollum, or
Diane Salyer,
Make PB & J Sandwiches for Prisoners & Homeless in Tijuana
10:00 AM – noon (or until all sandwiches are made)
St. Leo kitchen – Come join us! Drop-ins Welcome!
Contact: Stephanie Kowack,
Food Distribution at Encinitas
Community Resource Center (CRC)
New Volunteers always welcome!
2 shifts: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM & 12:00 – 2:00 PM
Encinitas Community Resource Center
Contact:  Pierre Godefroy,
Saturdays (2 nd & 4 th )
Maintenance & Crafts at Casa Eudes Girls Home, Tijuana, Mexico *
7:30 AM – 5:00 PM Come join us!
Meet in St. James Parking Lot to carpool in the church van
Contact: Jeff Sturgis,
*Must carry a valid US Passport Card (not a passport)
Saturdays (1st & 3rd)
Contact: Kathy Faller,
Repurposing with a Purpose” work party!
9 :00 – 11:00 AM Teens, Young Adults, Adults

Need service hours? Volunteers ALWAYS welcome!
Donation Sheds – St. James parking lot
Join us as we organize donations for upcoming building and home furnishing projects.
Look What’s Coming....
Sunday, Dec. 8            
Save the Date!   Christmas Market – Shop for hand-made,
religious, and fair trade gifts that benefit those in need and enjoy a delicious breakfast by the Knights of Columbus.

Coming soon!   
Christmas Party for the girls at Casa Eudes. Watch the parish
bulletin, Mission Circle Facebook Page, and website for more

Saturday, Dec. 14; 4:30-7:30 PM           
CRC's Holiday Baskets at Del Mar Fairgrounds: Join the Mission Circle volunteer team to distribute much needed gifts of food, toys, blankets, and much more. Contact Anastacia Grenda at for more information or to sign up for this event.