St. Stephen Church mission team is hosted by local families in Calobre, Panama. Their next mission trip will take place the week of July 18.

A handful of committed St. Stephen Church parishioners are taking a trip of a lifetime to serve as missionaries to a rural area of Panama called Calobre from Wednesday, July 18 through Wednesday, July 25. Tina Mytych is spearheading the trip and is excited to return to the area where she felt God’s calling.

“In September 2010, a video from the previous July 2010 mission trip was played prior to mass and I knew this is what God wanted me to do,” said Mytych. “My husband and I love volunteering at St. Stephen but I had always felt that God was calling me for something else, I just didn’t know what.”

This will be Mytych’s fourth mission trip to Panama. “Every trip has been so moving for me and I want every person going to have that amazing, life changing, spiritual experience,” said Mytych. “I have such a passion for this and truly believe others can see this love for Panama radiating within me.”

According to Mytych, the people of Calobre are wonderful, faith filled people “The children are absolutely beautiful with innocence that tends to be lost here in the states.  The simplicity of life and lack of material goods allows them to truly appreciate all that God has blessed them with,” said Mytych.

The close-knit of 17 people on the mission team will fly to Panama City, Panama and then drive five hours to Calobre, where the sister parish, Santisima Trinidad is located.  Once in Calobre, the team will visit the outlying villages during the mission days. The team will be assisting in building a home for a needy family and will visit several rural areas assisting in home repairs for the elderly. They will also pray with them and bless their homes. 

 “Every day prior to the mission work commencing, we celebrate mass with local residents,” said Mytych. “We will travel to outlying chapels and teach the Divine Mercy, a beautiful devotional prayer.  It has been truly inspirational when we are told that people are coming together weekly to continue praying the Divine Mercy.”

The main fundraiser for the trip consists of two carwashes at Carwash on the Greens on Lithia Pinecrest Rd.  Al and Carol Kleinotas, owners of the carwash, are key-supporters of the Panama Mission.  The carwash dates are Sunday, June 24 and Sunday, July 1. Members of the mission team will be volunteering to assist with cleaning the cars.  All proceeds go directly to the Panama mission. 

The mission is also collecting various items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, pencils, crayons and markers to distribute to the children in Panama. The church is also accepting monetary donations to purchase supplies.

St. Stephen Catholic Church is located at 5049 Bell Shoals Rd. in Riverview. For more information, visit or call 689-4900.

Previous articleProject Hope & Bay Life Help Children in Uganda
Next articleLive Like You Mean It: “The Secret to Contentment”
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.