For the last 20 years, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle has been writing the book that is his newly released memoir, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion”. For two decades, Fr. Boyle has been amassing a stupendously rich cache of stories about the homeboys and homegirls who one way or another found their way to his doorstep. He told them in homily form in the dozens of jails, camps and juvenile halls where he celebrated mass on Saturday, embedded them in the speeches he gave to raise money for the jobs program that was the precursor for Homeboy Industries (which provides work experience, therapy and the opportunity for once-rival gang members to work side-by-side), unfurled them at panels, hearings and conferences where he tried to convince lawmakers and anyone else who’d listen that the young men and women whom his tales featured were worth much more than the worst things they had ever done and that they should never, ever be thrown away.
For each occasion, Boyle spins a narrative tapestry that includes one or two funny anecdotes laced with street vernacular and Spanglish, and at least one tale of redemption. Then, after entrancing his audience with an account of a kid’s courage and shattering vulnerability, Boyle delivers the gut-punch. “I told that story,” he would say, “three weeks later at his funeral.”
Read more about Fr. Boyle’s book here.