Jesuit Father Greg Boyle received the 2011 Loaves & Fishes Award for Faith in Action, presented by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco in March for his nearly 25 years of building what is now the nation’s largest gang intervention and re-entry program, Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.
Fr. Boyle said he has never met anyone who was seeking something when he joined a gang. “They are always fleeing from something,” he said on March 4 at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco. “There are no exceptions.”
Boyle’s career choice of working with the poor and the marginalized took shape when he joined the Society of Jesus and was confirmed when he worked in Bolivia after his ordination. He was then assigned to Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, ground zero for gangs in a challenged area.
In 1988, Boyle started a “Jobs for a Future” program at Dolores Mission, and, in 1992 he launched a business to employ former gang members, Homeboy Bakery. Today businesses include Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy Maintenance and Homegirl Café.
He said, “Hope is the antidote. The best delivery system of hope to kids who are struggling, especially younger ones, is a loving, caring adult who pays attention to them. That’s the way it works.” For more on Boyle, visit Catholic San Francisco.