Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Greg Boyle’
In the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle cautions against looking at the tragedy from too distant a perspective. Looking at this from “an aerial view of nonviolence oddly keeps us from solutions,” Fr. Boyle told the National Catholic Reporter.
“In the same way the [Connecticut] governor said, ‘A great evil visited this community today,’ well, actually, armed mental illness visited your community that day. This is what keeps us from addressing actual issues,” said Fr. Boyle, who has worked with gang members in Los Angeles since 1988 through his Homeboy Industries ministry, which is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the U.S.
“When we take our views lower, we know we need to address guns and we need to address mental illness,” Fr. Boyle said. “The elephant in the room is mental health, which is something I see more and more with the gang population with whom I work.”
Fr. Boyle also told the National Catholic Reporter that the nation’s mental health care system is in desperate need of rehabilitation. According to Fr. Boyle, because of national, state and local government budget cuts made in recent years, today’s health care system is essentially the same as it was in 1850.
Fr. Boyle said mental health facilities have one bed for every 7,000 patients, and as a result the nation’s prisons, skid rows and homeless shelters are filled with the mentally ill.
“The largest mental health facility in the world is the Los Angeles county jail,” Fr. Boyle said. “These are examples that show we are not actually dealing with the real issues.”
“This is the story of a remarkable odd couple.” That’s the description of the new film “G-DOG” about Jesuit Father Greg Boyle and the former gang members, or homies, he’s served and befriended since 1992, when he founded Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.
Homeboy Industries helps former gang members learn skills to better their lives and provides jobs in its bakery, café and t-shirt store.
“G-DOG” was directed by Academy Award-winning documentarian Freida Mock and had its U.S. debut this past June at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Mock says she was inspired to make the film after seeing Fr. Boyle’s book “Tattoos on the Heart.” She remembers thinking, “A priest, kids, gangs and love? What’s this all about?”
The film, which is slated for theatrical release next year, introduces audiences to Fr. Boyle and the homies he helps. It also depicts a tough year for Homeboy Industries, with the possibility that the businesses will have to close because of challenging economic times.
Variety’s review said, “In an era with a paucity of real heroes, a genuine one emerges in “G-Dog”: the inexhaustible Jesuit priest Greg Boyle, whose Homeboy Industries has saved countless lives in Los Angeles’ gang-plagued neighborhoods.”
For more, visit the film’s website, www.gdogthemovie.com, where you can meet the cast and view clips.
In a recent Op-ed piece in the LA Times, columnist Jim Newton reflected on what the city might look like if Homeboy Industries, the Jesuit-founded ministry that provides on-the-job training and counseling to former gang members, was no longer a fixture in the urban area.
“Life without Homeboy would be bleaker, meaner and more expensive in a society already too bleak, too mean and strapped for cash,” says Newton in his column.
Founded at the height of the gang violence that was ripping the city apart in 1992, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle, himself now an icon in the city, started Homeboy Industries to help gang members leave their lives formed on the streets and in prisons and instead learn skills to improve their lives. Offering tattoo removal, counseling former “homies” in drug rehabilitation and mental health, and even providing jobs in its bakery, café and t-shirt store, Homeboy Industries is a haven for former gang members looking to turn their lives around. The ministry helps approximately 12,000 individuals each year learn life skills to lead them away from the streets.
With the economic downturn pulling back donations a few years ago, the concept of a Los Angeles without Homeboy Industries almost became a reality and Fr. Boyle had to canvas all of his contacts and benefactors to help stave off insolvency. Jobs for the homeboys and homegirls are still scare but the program does help keep these former gang members off the streets. “You want people to make the connection between public safety…and giving these people a chance,” Boyle says.
Read more about Homeboy Industries and what it and Fr. Boyle provide to Los Angeles in this column from the LA Times.
With the motto, “nothing stops a bullet like a job,” Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles works to help gang members leave their lives formed on the streets and in prisons and instead learn skills to improve their lives. Offering tattoo removal, counseling former “homies” in drug rehabilitation and mental health, and even providing jobs in its bakery, café and t-shirt store, Homeboy Industries is a haven for former gang members looking to turn their lives around. The ministry helps approximately 12,000 individuals each year learn life skills to lead them away from the streets.
Founded in 1992 by charismatic Jesuit Father Greg Boyle during the height of the city’s gang wars, Homeboy Industries has become a model program that other cities, like Chattanooga, are trying to replicate.
Fr. Boyle’s innovative program was featured recently in a piece by The Economist. An excerpt appears below and you can read the full story on The Economist’s website.
It can take between three and 40 treatments to remove a prison tattoo, says Troy, a volunteer doctor at Homeboy Industries in central Los Angeles, as another former gang member takes a seat. Troy zaps the tattoos with a laser, breaking up the ink so that the immune system can destroy it. This is painful, and the laser’s sharp cracking sound reminds some patients of shooting or of the prison yard, explains Andre, who is 27, spent seven years in prison, and got his first tattoo when he was 11. But it is still good to get rid of tattoos. “We focus on the visible ones,” says Troy, “the ones that make you a target when you’re walking decades later with your son and somebody shoots you, or the ones that prevent you from getting a job.”
“We’re a trauma-informed family here,” says Jesuit Father Greg Boyle. Eventually, they experience an unfamiliar feeling that he calls the “no-matter-whatness”. They realize that the staff do not judge their past but are ready to help them build a better future.
Homeboy Industries also recently opened a new diner in Los Angeles’ City Hall. You can find out more about Homeboy Diner in this Ignatian News Network video:
Homeboy Diner is the latest business venture of Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles Jesuit-founded ministry that has helped thousands of gang members quit lives of crime with counseling, tattoo removal and job training.
Founded by Jesuit Father Greg Boyle during the height of the L.A.’s gang wars 23 years ago, Homeboy Industries’ businesses, which include a silk-screen shop, a bakery and an 86-seat restaurant, currently provide job opportunities and training for over 400 ex-gang members.
This summer, when Los Angeles’ City Hall was looking for a vendor to move into an unoccupied cafe space on the second floor, a new venture, Homeboy Diner, was born.
Ignatian News Network was there for the opening of the cafe with Fr. Boyle and the diner’s new staff.